Month Archives: May 2010

Using Leftovers for Adult Stem Cells to Treat Hearts

by David Prentice

May 13, 2010

Doctors at the University of Bristol have shown that adult stem cells from “leftovers” of heart bypass operations could potentially be used to treat damaged hearts. Bypass operations involve transplanting a length of the saphenous vein from the leg into a coronary artery, bypassing a blocked or narrowed segment to restore blood flow and thus oxygen to the heart muscle. Surgeons often take longer segments of the leg vein than are used for the actual operation. The Bristol team showed that they could isolate adult stem cells from the leftover bits, and that the cells could stimulate blood vessel growth in mice.

Professor Paolo Madeddu noted:

This is the first time that anyone has been able to extract stem cells from sections of vein left over from heart bypass operations. These cells might make it possible for a person having a bypass to also receive a heart treatment using their bodys own stem cells. We can also multiply these cells in the lab to make millions more stem cells, which could potentially be stored in a bank and used to treat thousands of patients.

The results were published in the journal Circulation.

More Adult Stem Cells for Parkinson’s

by David Prentice

May 13, 2010

Yale scientists have shown that adult stem cells from human endometrium can substitute for the brain cells lost in Parkinson’s disease. Using a mouse model of Parkinson’s, they showed that they could successfully transplant adult stem cells derived from one tissue, the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), into another kind of tissue (the brain) and that the adult stem cells could develop into cells with the properties of brain tissue, in particular the dopamine-secreting neurons. The adult stem cells were obtained from nine women who did not have Parkinson’s disease. In the laboratory they verified that the unspecialized endometrial stem cells could be transformed into dopamine-producing nerve cells like those in the brain. When injected into the brains of Parkinson’s mice, the cells migrated to the site of damage and developed into dopamine-producing cells. Dr. Hugh S. Taylor, senior author, said:

Endometrial tissue is probably the most readily available, safest, most easily attainable source of stem cells that is currently available. We hope the cells we derived are the first of many types that will be used to treat a variety of diseases. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg for what we will be able to do with these cells.”

The results are published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine

There may indeed be a wide range of applications for endometrial adult stem cells. Another group recently reported on use of these cells for treatment of heart damage in a patient case study.

And when it comes to Parkinson’s disease, adult stem cells from various sources are moving ahead. In 2008 an Australian group has successfully treated Parkinsons in mice using adult stem cells from the nasal tissue of patients. And in February 2009, Levesque et al. published a case study showing a Parkinsons patients own neural adult stem cells ameliorated his symptoms for almost five years.

Raquel Welch Says The Pill Has Killed Marriage

by Cathy Ruse

May 13, 2010

Sage words from an aging sex symbol:

On Marriage: “I’m ashamed to admit that I myself have been married four times,” she writes, “and yet I still feel that it is the cornerstone of civilization, an essential institution that stabilizes society, provides a sanctuary for children, and saves us from anarchy.”

On Oral Contraception: Choosing a sexual partner “used to be the equivalent of choosing a life partner.” The growing proliferation of birth control methods has … led to a sea change in moral values. And a significant and enduring effect on women was the idea they could have sex without any consequences meaning fewer today see marriage as a viable option. Seriously, folks, if an aging sex symbol like me starts waving the red flag of caution over how low moral standards have plummeted, you know it’s gotta be pretty bad. In fact, it’s precisely because of the sexy image I’ve had that it’s important for me to speak up and say: Come on girls! Time to pull up our socks! We’re capable of so much better.”

Kinder, Gentler Bone Marrow Transplants

by David Prentice

May 12, 2010

Bone marrow and umbilical cord blood adult stem cell transplants are becoming more and more common, being used not just for cancer treatments but now for immune disorders, anemias, and genetic disorders. In 2006, there were over 50,000 transplants worldwide.

Now those transplants are getting easier, promising treatment of more patients and more conditions. Bone marrow transplants have been used successfully for several decades, as whole bone marrow and more recently by targeted use of the adult stem cells from bone marrow or umbilical cord blood. In the past, patients had their bone marrow adult stem cells collected and stored, then received high doses of chemotherapy drugs and/or radiation to kill cancer cells or rogue immune cells, followed by replacement of their stem cells to rebuild their system. It was definitely not an easy treatment. And for patients who don’t use their own stem cells or don’t have a perfectly-matched donor, there are additional risks from the donated graft itself, called Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD), where the donated cells can attack the patient into whom they are injected.

More recently, doctors have been using milder doses of chemo and radiation, allowing better tolerance of the procedure. And techniques are being developed to minimize or eliminate potential GVHD.

For example, in December 2009, nine out of ten adults treated for sickle cell anemia with the gentler method had their sickle cell disease eliminated.

Dr. Suzanne Ildstad at the University of Louisville has devised a technique to minimize GVHD. One facet of Ildstad’s new technique is the removal of immune cells that might cause GVHD from the bone marrow mix, and use of “facilitating cells“, rare bone marrow adult stem cells that promote engraftment as well as tolerance of the grafted cells. The “conditioned” bone marrow adult stem cell transplant decreases the chance of GVHD and increases toleration of the graft in the patient, especially where there is not a complete match between donor and recipient. Using bone marrow adult stem cells along with transplant of other organs also has the possibility of making the organ transplant easier to accept.

Several clinical trials are ongoing to use these newer techniques with patients. One current trial combines transplant of “conditioned” bone marrow along with kidney transplantation; a second similar trial is recruiting patients for kidney transplants. Other trials are testing the technique for heart transplants, for sickle cell disease, and for multiple sclerosis.

Adult stem cells continue to save lives and improve health.

Getting Hip, Boning Up with Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

May 12, 2010

Dr. Thomas Einhorn at Boston Medical Center has now treated about 50 patients for painful degenerative hip disease with the patient’s own adult stem cells. One of those patients, Jose Belsol, was training for a triathlon when diagnosed. Einhorn used Jose’s bone marrow adult stem cells, injected into the hip, to help generate new bone. Jose now has hope that he will be able to compete in sports again. Dr. Einhorn notes:

As long as I can win the race against time to replace that tissue with cells that can make bone and prevent that collapse from happening, Mr. Belsol should be OK.”

UK doctors have also had success using adult stem cells to repair hip bones.

A Korean team led by Dr Seok-Jung Kim recently published their data using cells cultured from bone marrow to speed bone healing after fractures. The 31 patients who received injection of their own cells showed significantly faster bone healing compared with the 33 patients who healed without use of added cells.

Dr. Lew Schon has also used bone marrow adult stem cells to speed bone healing. For one of his patients, Rob Attori, the treatment decreased healing time from the usual 3-6 months in a brace down to nine weeks, in time for him to make a 4,000-mile bike ride he had planned. Rob now works with Dr. Schon on stem cell research.

Dr. Schon says:

I started to use it on my high risk patients, the patients who had rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, who had failed prior surgeries. The patients were healing better. They were healing faster, they were healing more completely.”

Adult stem cells keep helping patients.

Misleading Michigan on Stem Cells

by David Prentice

May 11, 2010

An odd, and definitely misleading, statement appeared in an article on a stem cell trial with ALS being led by Eva Feldman of the University of Michigan.

According to the story:

Dr. Eva Feldman had to turn to a company outside Michigan for the stem cells needed for her ongoing Phase I trials on patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Feldman said Neuralstem’s stem cells are more developed than cells available at the University of Michigan because of the ban on research in Michigan before the 2008 passage of Proposal 2.”

But there are several things misleading in that statement.

First, Neuralstem uses fetal stem cells, not embryonic stem cells. Fetal tissue research and fetal stem cell research have been legal, and even federally funded, since 1993, including in Michigan.

Even for human embryonic stem cells, the University of Michigan received one of the first three federal grants for the research in 2002, using the approved human embryonic stem cell lines.

The Michigan “ban on research” only prohibited destroying embryos for research. The passage of Proposal 2 in 2008 allows that destruction to take place in the state now. But the research with the stem cell lines has been allowed, and funded, all along.

So the only accurate part of the statement is that Feldman had to look for cells other than newly-isolated embryonic stem cells, or embryonic stem cells in general, to do her study. The rest is just so much political whining.

In fact, Richard Garr, president of Neuralstem, has said:

the use of neural stem cells isolated from humans in the fetal stage of development is better suited to the study as opposed to embryonic stem cells.”

Adult stem cells are even better suited, and have already been used in promising clinical trials with ALS.

Good News on Multiple Sclerosis with Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

May 11, 2010

A groundbreaking new study published in the last week provides more good news for treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) with adult stem cells. Researchers at the University of Bristol used patients’ own adult stem cells to treat their MS.

In a Phase I clinical trial, six patients with MS were treated with their own bone marrow adult stem cells and their progress followed for one year. The treatment appeared to stabilized the patients’ condition and showed some benefits. As one measure of the success of the procedure, damaged nerve pathways were able to carry electrical pulses more effectively after the treatment.

Multiple sclerosis is an incurable disease, with the patients own immune system attacking the central nervous system and eventually leaving many patients in a wheelchair.

One of the most encouraging aspects of this trial was the elegantly simple procedure. Patients reported to the hospital and had bone marrow adult stem cells removed, the cells were filtered, and then given back to the patients intravenously. The patients went home before the end of the day.

The research team is led by Professor Neil Scolding, at the University of Bristol and North Bristol NHS Trust. Professor Scolding said:

We are encouraged by the results of this early study. The safety data are reassuring and the suggestion of benefit tantalising. Research into the underlying mechanisms is ongoing and vital, in order to build on these results. We believe that stem cells mobilised from the marrow to the blood are responsible, and that they help improve disease in several ways, including neuroprotection and immune modulation.

The team is now planning a Phase II/III study. The report for this trial is published in the Nature journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.

Previous studies have also had good success at stopping MS progression, and in some cases putting patients into remission. Dr. Richard Burt at Northwestern University has published several studies showing good success using adult stem cells to “reboot” the immune system of MS patients. Scientists in Australia have also used the procedure with success, and recently Dr. Mark Freedman of Ottawa, Canada has produced “long-lasting remission” in MS patients.

In these cases, patients had their bone marrow adult stem cells collected, then received chemotherapy to knock the rogue immune cells that were attacking their nervous system. Then their adult stem cells were re-injected. While recent successful treatments have used milder chemotherapy, this is still not a gentle or risk-free procedure for the patient. The new approach by the Bristol team is all the more interesting in this respect, because there is no pre-conditioning with chemotherapy.

An international group of multiple sclerosis researchers have looked at these uses of adult stem cells for treatment of MS, and propose moving forward with additional clinical trials to help patients.

May 10th—World Freedom Day

by Robert Morrison

May 10, 2010

Left wing folks are forever proclaiming world days for this and that. World AIDS day is December 1st. Earth Day, of course, is April 22nd. Id like to propose May 10th as World Freedom Day.

Thats the day in 1940 that Hitlers panzers crashed through weak French defenses and began a powerful drive that would bring them into Paris itself in less than six weeks. The German army had bled and died for four years in World War I, unable to achieve that goal. The world was stunned by the speed and ferocity of the Wehrmachts attack in 1940.

So what has this to do with World Freedom? It so happens, in a coincidence that historian John Lukacs calls a spiritual pun, that Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of England also on May 10th. He was, in a sense, the last man standing.

Exhausted, disheartened, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was forced to resign that fiery May 10th. He had seen his hopes for appeasement go up in smoke. He had been dragged with great reluctance into declaring war against Hitler on September 3, 1939.

Chamberlain had followed that half-hearted move with months of a phony war in the West while Hitlers forces crushed the brutalized Poles. Hitler was determined to wipe out Polish resistance. His dive bombers pulverized beautiful Warsaw. The brave Poles fought fiercely, but their outmoded equipment was no match for Hitlers Luftwaffe. He had even equipped his Stuka dive bombers with sirens on their wings—to sow terror among the panicked civilians he made his special targets.

But instead of striking boldly into Germany across a weakly defended border while Hitler was busy murdering Poles, Chamberlain contented himself with dropping leaflets on Germany. Once, when a Royal Air Force bombardier failed to cut the twine that bound a bundle of leaflets, he was reprimanded. That heavy bundle might have hurt someone on the ground—in Germany.

When Chamberlain thought he might get to Norway first and head off a threatened invasion of that neutral Nordic country by Hitler, he boastfully told the House of Commons Hitler has missed the bus. Hardly a war cry. Hitler rallied and beat the British to Norway, marching almost unopposed into Oslo. Hitlers shock troops invaded—behind a German oom-pah band. Chamberlain was doomed. A clamorous debate in the House of Commons revealed that he had lost critical support in the ruling Conservative Party.

Forced into resignation, Chamberlain would have preferred handing off to his equally appeasing Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax. The King and Queen, the majority of the Conservative Party, and the entire British Establishment vastly preferred Halifax, too. But Halifax recognized that, as a Member of the House of Lords, he could not effectively direct a government whose Cabinet sat in the House of Commons. In an outdoor meeting in the garden of No. 10 Downing Street, Halifax took himself out of contention. For once, he later wrote, Winston was silent. The Prime Ministers red leather box would come to him, almost by default. Winston had been in the political wilderness for a full decade. He was now sixty-five years old. Many people in England—and America—thought his time had passed.

I felt was if I was walking with destiny, Churchill later wrote, that all my previous life had been but a preparation for this hour and trial. Soon, Churchill would preside over the Miracle of Deliverance we know as Dunkirk. There, over a week in late May, more than 340,000 British and French troops were evacuated, saved from destruction by the rampaging German army. The English Channel, normally stormy year `round, was a smooth as a mill pond. Halifax had asked for a National Day of Prayer. Churchill, still unsteady in the saddle, had to give in to him on that.

Leaving all their equipment behind them, the evacuating troops clambered aboard warships, fishing boats, ferry boats, sailboats, anything in England that could float. When they came home to Old Blighty, their island home, they refused to act whipped. They were cheered as if they had won a great victory. Behind them on the beaches of France was all their equipment.

Throughout that summer of 1940, Churchill rallied the British people with his stirring rhetoric.

Invasion seemed imminent. Then, in July, the German air force began its raids. They would come almost every night for nine months. Blitzkrieg killed 60,000 civilians in Britain in World War II.

Still, Churchill remained defiant. There would be no truck or parley with Hitler. Halifax hopes for a negotiated settlement would be quietly voted down then cast aside. In defeat, defiance, was Churchills watchword, In victory, magnanimity. It would be five long years until total victory. Churchill and Britain would survive. He would walk over the charred remnants of Hitlers bunker in occupied Berlin.

Americans that summer of 1940, separated by 3,000 miles of ocean, watched all this in wonder. Britain had seemed so weak, so decadent in the 1930s. But when the life of the nation—and the freedom of the world—was at stake, Winston Churchill spoke to the hearts of the people. As President Kennedy would later say: He marshaled the English language and sent it into battle. Today, May 10th, which deserves to be memorialized as World Freedom Day, we Americans can thank God for the life and work of Winston Churchill. He saved our freedom, too.

Change Watch: Elena Kagan—Supreme Court Nominee

by Family Research Council

May 10, 2010

POSITION: Supreme Court nominee

NOMINEE: Elena Kagan

Born: April 28, 1960

Occupation: Dean of Harvard Law School and Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of Law at Harvard University.

Education: BA summa cum laude, Princeton University, 1981; MPhil, Worchester College, Oxford, 1983; JD magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1986

Clinton White House: 1995-1996 associate counsel to the President; 1997-1999 deputy assistant to the President for Domestic Policy; 1997-1999 deputy director Domestic Policy Council.

NOTE: From 1986 to 1987 Ms. Dean Kagan served as a judicial clerk for Judge Abner Mikva on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. From 1987-1988 she also served as a judicial clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Dean Kagan briefly served as a staff member for Michael Dukakiss presidential campaign. During the summer of 1993 she served as Special Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee to work on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

HOMOSEXUAL ISSUES

Gays in the Military

Last year candidate Barack Obama repeatedly opined that students should have military service opportunities on campus. However, President Obama’s nominee for solicitor general, Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, believes the military should be barred from campus. In fact, she fought all the way to the United States Supreme Court, trampling on students’ constitutional rights all the way there, in order to deny qualified students the opportunity to serve our country … Kagan’s staunch ideological opposition to the military and providing qualified students the opportunity to serve puts her well outside of the mainstream. Even Bill Clinton, who dodged a military draft during Vietnam, signed the law Kagan opposes, the Solomon amendment, with overwhelming congressional and public support.

Solomon, simply put, seeks to facilitate voluntary military service by asking colleges and universities to allow students to meet with military recruiters on campus and to participate in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Schools whose policies or practices obstruct students from taking part are ineligible for federal funding.

Yet, Kagan, who has categorized the law as “immoral” at a 2003 Harvard student forum, argued in support of the position of the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, the so-called FAIR coalition, claiming elite schools have a right to taxpayer largesse while simultaneously barring the military - a radical view the Supreme Court unanimously struck down … Yet, leftwing views like Kagan’s still disparage the sacrifices our military makes and cause real, quantifiable harm to students and to our nation at taxpayer expense. According to Harvard’s annual financial statements, the school received $473 million of our hard-earned dollars during the 2003-4 school year, while FAIR, with Kagan’s help, won an injunction against the military in the Third Circuit. Harvard took another $511 million during the following school year and, for 2005-6, $517 million more as the Supreme Court heard and rejected FAIR’s claims.

Even Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a former American Civil Liberties Union lawyer and centerpiece of the liberals’ high court coalition, couldn’t find a way to justify these spurious, anti-student claims and recognized Congress’ ability to condition taxpayer spending. Flagg Youngblood, Solicitor General Flimflam, The Washington Times, January 30, 2009.

Hate Crimes

Believes courts should support hate crime laws and that when reviewing regulations of speech, courts could evaluate motive directly, they could remove the lions share of the First Amendments doctrinal clutter. Elena Kagan, Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Government Motive in First Amendment Doctrine, 63 U. Chi. L. Rev. 413, 516 (1996).

In her 1993 University of Chicago Law Review piece, she wrote that proposed regulations on hate speech and pornography failed to adhere to the fundamental First Amendment principle of viewpoint neutrality that the government cannot favor certain private speakers or viewpoints over others. Her 1996 article on government motive in First Amendment cases has been cited more than 115 times an enviably high number for a secondary source. In that article she declares that the application of First Amendment law is best understood and most readily explained as a kind of motive-hunting. David Hudson, Jr., Solicitor-general nominee: impressive First Amendment resume, FirstAmendmentcenter.org.

On Opposing Religious Institutions Involving Themselves In Pregnancy

As a young law clerk, Kagan, 49, once penned a memo saying it would be difficult for a religious organization to take government funding to counsel teenagers about pregnancy without injecting some kind of religious teaching. When a Senator asked her about the memo, Kagan did not hesitate to distance herself from its views, saying she had fresh eyes two decades later. I looked at it, and I thought, That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, she said. Michael Sherer, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Time, April 13, 2010.

On Questioning of Presidential Nominees

Kagan herself has called for the Senate to use confirmation hearings to engage nominees in meaningful discussion of legal issues. In her 1995 review (62 U. Chi. L. Rev. 919) of Stephen L. Carters The Confirmation Mess, Kagan argues that the critical inquiry that the Senate should conduct on a Supreme Court nominee concerns the votes she would cast, the perspective she would add (or augment), and the direction in which she would move the institution. Kagan draws as the fundamental lesson of the Bork hearings … the essential rightnessthe legitimacy and the desirabilityof exploring a Supreme Court nominees set of constitutional views and commitments.

Although Carters book and Kagans review focus heavily on Supreme Court nominees, they also address DOJ nominations (especially Clintons 1993 nomination, subsequently withdrawn, of Lani Guinier to be AAG for Civil Rights), and Kagans view of the Senates role applies fully to those (and other executive-branch) nominations. That, of course, is hardly surprising, as the case for careful scrutiny of the legal views of DOJ nominees, even if combined with greater deference to the president, seems widely accepted. Ed Whelan, Obamas SG Pick Elena Kagan, NROs The Corner, January 7, 2009.

On Lack of Experience

Kagan may well have less experience relevant to the work of being a justice than any justice in the last five decades or more. In addition to zero judicial experience, she has only a few years of real-world legal experience. Further, notwithstanding all her years in academia, she has only a scant record of legal scholarship. Kagan flunks her own threshold test of the minimal qualifications needed for a Supreme Court nominee. Ed Whelan, Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan, NROs Bench Memos, May 10, 2010.

On Being a Washington and Obama Administration Insider

There is a striking mismatch between the White Houses populist rhetoric about seeking a justice with a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people and the reality of the Kagan pick. Kagan is the consummate Obama insider, and her meteoric rise over the last 15 yearsfrom obscure academic and Clinton White House staffer to Harvard law school dean to Supreme Court nomineewould seem to reflect what writer Christopher Caldwell describes as the intermarriage of financial and executive branch elites [that] could only have happened in the Clinton years and that has fostered the dominant financial-political oligarchy in America. In this regard, Kagans paid role as a Goldman Sachs adviser is the perfect marker of her status in the oligarchyand of her unfathomable remoteness from ordinary Americans. Ed Whelan, Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan, NROs Bench Memos, May 10, 2010.

Goldman Sachs Ties

Solicitor General Elena Kagan was a member of the Research Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute, according to the financial disclosures she filed when President Obama appointed her last year to her current post. Kagan served on the Goldman panel from 2005 through 2008, when she was dean of Harvard Law School, and received a $10,000 stipend for her service in 2008, her disclosure forms show. Matt Kelly, Possible Supreme Court pick had ties with Goldman Sachs USA Today, April 27, 2010.

Opposition by Liberals

Liberal legal scholars and experts stepped up their attacks Friday on Elena Kagan as a potential Supreme Court nominee, hoping to dissuade President Obama from selecting her in the last few days before an expected announcement early next week. A group of four law professors Friday morning published a piece at Salon.com criticizing Kagan, Obamas solicitor general, for hiring too few women and minorities when she was dean of Harvard law school. Liberal attorney and blogger Glenn Greenwald who has taken Kagan to task for her views on executive power and been the chief organizing force behind criticism of Kagan promoted the column on his Twitter account and kept up a drumbeat against Kagan… .Ive devoted everything I can to making the case against Kagan before Obama chooses, precisely because I know that once he makes his selection, the overwhelming majority of progressives and Democrats will cheer for her even if they have no idea what she thinks or believes, Greenwald said… .Prominent liberal legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky made that very point this week in an interview. The reality is that Democrats, including liberals, will accept and push whomever Obama picks, said Chemerinsky, founding dean of the University of California-Irvine law school. Obviously, liberals hope that Obama will pick someone more from the left than the center. It cant be that Republicans pick conservatives and Democrats pick only moderates. John Ward, Liberal activists intensify attacks on Kagan as court pick nears, The Daily Caller, May 7, 2010.

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