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.
"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.