FRED THOMPSON SAID...
On November 20, 2007, Fred Thompson issued the following statement:
"There is exciting news for patients today. In yet another breakthrough for adult cell research, scientists have made normal human skin cells take on the relevant properties of embryonic stem cells. That is in addition to 73 breakthroughs for Adult Stem Cell research to date. There are still no Embryonic Stem Cell breakthroughs. ‚“
Senator Thompson is referring to the list, which came out in October of 2004 and was updated as recently as April 11, 2007, entitled ‚“Benefits of Stem Cells to Human Patients, Adult Stem Cells vs. Embryonic Stem Cells‚ - http://stemcellresearch.org/facts/treatments.htm
The list shows that the use of adult stem cells (ASC) in treatment produced therapeutic benefit for human patients in 73 different diseases. On that same list, the use of embryonic stem cells (ESC) in treatment produced therapeutic benefit for human patients in zero diseases. Or to put it simply, the score is ASC 73, ESC 0. This side by side comparison is a simplified version taken directly from ‚“Peer-reviewed references showing applications of Adult Stem Cells that produce therapeutic benefit for human patients ‚“ http://stemcellresearch.org/facts/asc-refs.pdf
Senator Thompson then said:
"For all who are concerned for patients and their families, the effective, ethical, and compassionate answer is to put our money where the breakthroughs are happening -- in adult research. Using adult cells negates the need for cloning embryos to harvest their stem cells. We all want to find cures to help people with chronic illnesses. Adult cells have provided breakthroughs for many illnesses including ovarian and breast cancer, Juvenile Diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and Sickle Cell Anemia..."
Senator Thompson's position was very quickly attacked with seemingly angry inquisitions of "Where can Americans get these treatments?" As an example, on November 26, 2007, Steven Edwards of Wired Science had this to say:
‚“We at Wired Science think that people suffering from these 73 conditions would love to know where they can receive these cord blood and adult stem-cell treatments. So to Thompson, we issue a challenge: Provide a list of locations where Americans can receive these treatments. If you cannot, your pants are most definitely on fire.‚
I want to thank Steven Edwards of Wired Science for asking one of the most relevant questions of the 21st century! Indeed, it is a terribly important question and one that should concern us all. This is a question that should be asked at every deli counter, around every water cooler, on street corners and during the commercials of Heroes, House, American Idol and Grey's Anatomy. This is a question that people should be shouting from the rooftops of our office buildings, bouncing off the hallway walls of our schools and sharing over the dinner table in our homes.
‚“WHERE CAN AMERICANS GET THESE TREATMENTS!?‚
Where indeed? As I hope Mr. Edwards must be implying, it is tantamount to criminal that the United States does not already have ASC centers available for the treatment of its people. It is unjust and detrimental to the American people that there is not one ASC center in the USA. I'm NOT talking about embryonic stem cell treatment where the moral and ethical implications will take years to unravel and the scientific problems may take decades to solve. I'm talking about ASC treatment where all that is needed is a simple blood or bone marrow donation from the patient. There SHOULD be adult stem cell treatment centers in the US. In fact, there should be ASC treatment centers in every major city in America. There should be an ASC center within one hundred miles of every chronically ill American and we as Americans should have adult stem cell treatment centers on Main Streets, Oak Streets and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevards!
We should be able to wake up; grab our Frappuccino from ‚“Starbucks‚ or ‚“Dunkins‚ and then a quick shot of adult stem cells at the ‚“StemCellMart‚ before heading off to work. Unfortunately, this is not the case. ASC treatments for over two dozen "incurable" diseases are currently available all over the world, on five continents; many in countries that the average American would consider third world, but here in the United States and Canada where we have some of the greatest brain trusts, hospitals, medical schools and facilities there is NOT ONE ASC TREATMENT CENTER.
Does your father, your priest, your uncle, your mother, your sister or your child have Congestive Heart Failure, Cardiomyopathy, Angina, Diabetes-2, or Peripheral Arterial Disease (which usually ends in amputation)? Sorry, but we can't treat them here. But don't worry though, hop onto your wheelchair, grab your oxygen tank, hire a full time nurse for three to four weeks and head for Asia, or Costa Rica, or South America, or to several destinations in Europe.
Does your loved one have Congestive Heart Failure, Cardiomyopathy or Angina? Well, we can't treat them with ASC here in America but no problem, Thailand has been treating hundreds of such no-option patients since 2005 with 75% success (vs. 0%-5% using ‚“standard‚ American cardiology). Do they have Emphysema? Argentina is now treating patients there. If they have Multiple Sclerosis, go to Switzerland where the University of Basel has been using ASC for a decade. Germany is a fun place to visit and they lead the world in number of ASC treatments for heart disease, while India has so many clinics and hospitals treating so many diseases with adult stem cells that it is hard to even keep up with them.
China's major neurological hospitals are so far ahead of the world in adult stem cell treatment of neurological diseases that America, mired in useless debates about embryonics, will never catch up. China is currently treating ALS (Lou Gehrig Disease), Parkinson's (attention Mr. Fox!), traumatic brain injury, Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis (attention candidate Edwards), and, hold your breath, AUTISM. These five diseases comprise about half of the neurological diseases that they are now treating while Americans continue to suffer and die, devoid of any hope. The treatments are not easy and ten shots over five years may be necessary at the current early levels of the science---imagine: ten trips from Paducah to Beijing--- but what is the alternative for these people? There are none in America while the country continuous the insane bickering over something that won't possibly be able to help until after they suffer needlessly for years and die.
I would like to point out that embryonic research is not only permitted in Asia, it is actually the beneficiary of massive government support since 2001. For six years some of the greatest scientists in Asia have researched without restrictions and with full financial and government support. Even some of America's (and Europe's) own scientists, frustrated with the stem cell straight jacket employed on research in the western world, have gone to Asia to research embryonic stem cell therapy and to pursue what they hope will be the miracle cure of tomorrow.
For six years, with a huge brain trust consisting of both eastern and western scientific researchers, with no restrictions on areas of research and with the financial backing of governments, these brilliant men and women have labored to find successful ESC treatments for human beings. For six years they have tried to discover the first successful embryonic stem cell treatment, knowing full well that there was limited to no market for it in the United States due to presumed moral and ethical restrictions. For six years they have watched as one by one, ASC treatments were researched, tested, implemented and found effective. For six years their ASC colleagues were lauded with praise over their accomplishments in treatments of human disease in countries other than America, while they received none. And after six years of unrestricted research they have not found one successful embryonic stem cell treatment, NOT ONE.
I beseech you to help restore our rights to healthy living and freedom of choice. I ask you to assist the American people in getting ASC treatment centers built and in operation. I beg you to spread the word about the successes and the benefits of adult stem cell treatments. In doing so, we can reverse the illogical and unfruitful research, funding and focus on ESC treatment and switch it to its rightful place: on that of adult stem cell research and treatments.
We live in a great time of innovation and discovery and huge reversals of previously held conceptions of ourselves and the world around us. Today we know that the brain can regenerate neurons and cells, which spells great potential for the future of brain disease therapies. Today we've sequenced the human genome down to only 20-25,000 genes, a much more manageable number than previously believed. Finally, and possibly most importantly, today we know that adult stem cells are successfully treating diseases all over the world which were just a short time ago considered ‚“incurable‚.
Unfortunately, our plight as humans is that the more we extend our lives the more diseases we ultimately encounter. So be it. But isn't it obvious that ASC are the keystone for the cure or even the cure itself for a huge number of significant diseases? At the very least, one must admit that the mammoth potential in ASC is undeniable and the staggering positive results outside of the USA serves to substantiate that potential fully and unequivocally. ESC, on the other hand, have unfortunately not yet shown a single breakthrough. Not a single therapy dared to be even tested on humans. And it's not for lack of trying.
Let us shift the focus, readjust the attitude, and direct the funding and the research finally towards where they belong. ASC research has already been proven as THE ultimate weapon against the diseases of our time. ASC treatments have already done so and been proven extremely effective in many countries throughout the world. Let's embrace this monumental discovery of seemingly unlimited potential. Let's accept and allow the magic of ASC to become a force in our arsenal to combat the debilitating illnesses that are weakening our country from the inside out. Let's recognize and encourage ASC treatments as the rightful science and the harbinger of the cures of tomorrow in the United States. Every moment America wastes on the never-to-be-needed science fiction of embryonics, people are unnecessarily dying.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter and I await your written response.
Founder S.A.I.L., NOW!
STEM CELL STORY OF THE YEAR 2007:
‚“The Stem Cell Wars Are Over!‚
By Don Margolis,
Founder, S.A.I.L. NOW
Jamie Thomson, the father of embryonic research since he isolated the first line of embryonic stem cells in 1998, recently discovered, along with a Japanese associate, a method of creating faux-embryonic stem cells from adult skin cells, as announced in November 2007.
Virtually all of the stem cell writers in America declared the stem cell wars were over. ‚“We can make embryonic stem cells from skin, so there are no moral issues!‚ they exclaimed. As is normal for embryonic publicists, they were years premature. We are no closer to real cures for real humans than we were before the new miracle. Embryonic cures cannot sail, this decade or next.
On the day after the big press release, I wrote that the Thomson announcement was a non-event; only that the embryonic movement needed its ‚“miracle press release of the month,‚ and Thomson gave them one, inadvertently I am sure, since Thomson has never been anything but an honest man of science. His level-headed statement on the so-called miracle is refreshing when compared to the cheerleaders: "I believe these new results, while they do not eliminate that controversy, is probably the beginning of the end of that controversy," Thompson said. ''Even though we have this nice new source of cells, it doesn't solve all the downstream problems of getting them into the body in useful form.‚ Now you know why I respect the good doctor as much as I do.
You see, I look at embryonic stem cells from one perspective only: ‚“Does this advance in knowledge bring the treatment of incurable diseases by implanting embryonic stem cells one step closer to mankind.‚ In this case, the answer is a resounding ‚“NO!‚
Let us take a look from the real world of science rather than the science fiction world of the embryonic cheerleaders.
The majority of these cheerleaders in America do not know that embryonic cells come from cancer cells and those cancer cells come along with embryonic stem cells in every lab in the world; witnessed by the tumor growth generated among the animal subjects in the animal trials..... a major obstacle that must be overcome before an ESC can be implanted into a human being. The reason they don't know it is that the word ‚“cancer‚ has been prohibited from being mentioned in association with ‚“embryonic‚ in virtually every newspaper and medical journal in the land.
But the movement's censors could not keep the word ‚“cancer‚ out of the Thomson promotion, since Thomson put it in himself, as did his colleague Dr.Yamanaka and other quoted serious researchers. The same thing happened in 2006 when an honest embryonic researcher at the University of Rochester, after his team virtually cured his lab animals of Parkinson's, was forced to watch as those doomed animals all developed tumors. ‚“Cancer‚ appeared in the reporting medical journal and the spin doctors were forced to use it in the newspapers. The researcher was brutally honest about the events, which is why the Washington Post refused to print his most damning quotes and why the censors are still doing their best to keep ‚“cancer‚ and ‚“embryonic‚ from appearing in the same newspaper articles. You won't find it in USA medical journals either, unless the reported event screams it out, as it did in Rochester.
That, and Thomson's efforts to keep the truth in view (not an easy task in America, even for him) was the clue that convinced me this whole ‚“miracle‚ was virtually meaningless as to the only thing that matters: ‚“Where are the embryonic cures for human beings, or even animals, for that matter?‚ The answer is ‚“further away than they seemed to be in before the announcement---and that was real far away.‚ Over the intervening weeks, serious embryonic people started to realize the truth. Please note I am not saying the latest breakthrough isn't important, only that it does not bring embryonic implants into humans any closer.
As a comparison, let us look at the largest USA phase2 adult stem cell clinical trial for chronic heart disease. Baxter, a huge medical device corporation, is sponsoring that one, and they got FDA approval in 2004. They hope to finish phase two in 2010, installing one of America's leading stem cell heart researchers, Dr. Douglas Losordo, to run it. If they stay lucky (with Losordo in charge, I'm betting ‚“yes‚) they will get FDA approval in 2010 for phase3. Another two years would be a minimum to complete it. Again, if their luck holds up, they could get final approval for general useby 2013, nine years after their 2004 phase1 approval.
Add to the calculation the fact that adult stem cells do not carry cancer and also that Baxter's stem cells come from the individual patient so there is zero risk of rejection by the patient's immune system. That makes Dr. Losordo's job ‚“easy.‚ Easy = 9 years of FDA trials!
Now let's look at ‚“not-so-easy,‚ in fact at something so complicated, no one yet knows what all the traps down the road may bring. In a word, let's take a closer look at EMBRYONICS than you will ever get in any American medical journal; nor in the giants of pro-embryonic liberal print media in NY, WashDC and LA; nor from any of the 80% of politically (but not scientifically) correct academic institutions to which most scientists are connected.
FIRST, Thomson and friends must confirm their findings, meaning that some other research group must duplicate them elsewhere; and the consensus seems to be a year or two. Merely SOP in science, no argument there.
SECOND, researchers must conquer the cancer issue if they even dream of the FDA considering an embryonic stem cell trial. Conquering that embryonic cancer cell has proved impossible to overcome during the decade since Thomson's initial discovery and no one is even claiming serious progress. They like to blame their failings on Bush, but this ignores thousands of researchers working around-the-clock around the world, mostly in countries with government funding and NO government restrictions. The manipulations of the pro-embryonic media prove how desperate they are to keep that information from their readers, the majority of whom are ‚“true-believers.‚ Their readers, overwhelming pro-embryonic, have no idea that cancer is even a problem, let alone that nobody, not even Thomson with his latest triumph, has yet come up with a way to avoid it.
THIRD, they must conquer the rejection problem, a problem ‚“solved‚ by transplant cardiologists who have no choice but to permanently compromise the dying heart patient's immune system to prevent rejection of the new healthy heart. Permanently compromising the patient's immune system is NOT an option for embryonic researchers.
FOURTH. The availability of embryos for research, Bush or no Bush, is a problem. Without a doubt, the cost of research embryos adds to the already super-high cost of embryonic research. For a complete report on this issue from the Rand thinktank, click here: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9038/index1.html
FIFTH, and this will come as a shock to those who closely follow the movement, is that the only bragging point of embryonics is that their cells are ‚“pluripotent,‚ which means they can presumably become any cell in the human body, and therefore help any part of the body get better. Some are beginning to realize what I said in 2006: ‚“Pluripotentcy is a two edged-sword.‚
The best researchers in the world, on five continents, all know that science cannot begin to control the embryonic stem cell's ability and desire to become whatever it darn well pleases. Good embryonic researchers can train their cells to significantly help patients with many different diseases, but once the cells are finished doing that, off they go, wherever and whenever and however they wish and that ‚“however‚ too often results in tumors. In two words, as of the beginning of 2008, embryonic stem cells are unstable and unpredictable. The Curse of the Pluripotent! But read on: it gets worse.
Put it all together.
2010: They confirm Thomson's skin cell miracle.
2012: They conquer the cancer and the rejection problems. I don't really believe just two years. However, I want to give them a best-case scenario, so I will also ignore the instability factor.
2013: FDA approves the first embryonic clinical trial.
2023: Ten years to get through three phases of clinical trials is the minimum under today's rules....using long-proven safe and stable adult stem cells. I doubt that ten years is possible for embryonics, given their instability and unpredictability, but let's use it.
Too many snippets are coming out of the real world of science to allow such an easy path to human treatment. The strange thing is that the leading embryonic scientists in America, but not the media giants, are actually pulling in their horns after the Thomson announcement!
First thing I noticed was the fear of the ‚“reprogramming‚ that Dr. Yamanaka used to revert the skin cells all the way back to embryonic cells. Embryonic stem cells are already unpredictable, and Yamanaka's method figures to raise the level of unpredictability. That makes them impossible to use on humans. That is not Don Margolis talking; this is from Dr. George Q. Daley, a stem cell researcher at Children's Hospital Boston, who concludes:
"But for the ultimate goal of getting cells into a patient, it's a lot less clear. These cells may never be useful for direct therapy." Amen, Dr. Daley! For a guy who earns his living in embryonics, your honesty is refreshing!
Across town there is another embryonic research leader who is even more adamant than Dr. Daley. From Boston.com:
In what is even more of a lurking threat, the process uses retroviruses to carry the genes into cells. These viruses can disrupt the normal function of DNA and also can spur the birth of cancer cells.
Some proponents of reprogramming argue that problems from genetic modification and use of viruses are purely technical and easily surmountable. But other stem cell researchers are skeptical that reprogrammed cells or specialized cells produced from them will ever win approval for use in humans. "It will never be approved [by the FDA] to put these cells in a patient," said biologist Douglas A. Melton, co director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. "The retrovirus can be a Trojan horse that can carry all sorts of problems." (Thanks to Boston.com)
What is astonishing about these quotes is that they both come from Boston, the hotbed of embryonic exaggeration and adult stem cell denigration. FYI, there is no bigger embryonic research center in the world than Harvard, and the only difference of opinion between Co-Director Melton and myself is that he believes that real embryonic cells can, someday soon, safely be put into a human being, and I do not. I repeat, only an opinion, on both our parts.
Yet, I am hopeful about the advances in embryonic stem cell research and the promise they hold for treating humans in the future. However, as you can see, those leading the research, especially Dr. Thomson and now Dr. Melton, understand and freely admit that there are still significant practical hurdles to overcome. In the meantime, adult stem cells offer a safe, proven alternative with the power to save and improve lives now; lives that are unreasonably being forced to remain hopeless, then being needlessly pushed to the grave, rather than to be treated with what works now.
Finally, the latest Thomson/Yamanaka achievement may have application to something other than the long-dismal hope of implanting still-poisonous embryonic stem cells into humans. Geneticists see now the real possibility of generating cell lines from the patient without using problem-filled ‚“nuclear transfer,‚ their only hope up to now. That will allow them to take those cells, specific to one sick patient, regress them back to the embryo stage, and study the difference between those sick cells and healthy embryonic cells of other people---a huge step in determining the cause of diseases.
More imminent, however, is using embryonic cells to "teach" adult cells how to do their jobs more efficiently. Doctors have already used this method to improve rates of cardio repair and regenesis and, so, far, no evidence of "tumorigenesis," which mean they have avoided the tumor trap and still used the power of the embryonic cells. Dr. Thomson, as always, my hat is off to you! Dr. Yamanaka, please don't stop here....keep moving forward.
Don Margolis started the world's first commercial company to actually treat and improve the lives of dying heart patients using adult stem cells, with about 200 successes to date. He is not a doctor, but a charter member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He is neutral on the issue of embryonic stem cell morality. He never mentions the subject and will not discuss it, believing that the debate itself does nothing but take the public's attention away from the only thing that matters; i.e. thousands of Americans are dying unnecessarily each month because of the senseless debate. His one and only mission is to ‚“S.A.I.L. NOW‚ (Save And Improve Lives NOW) with long-proven-safe adult stem cells, rather than in 2023, if then, using embryonic stem cells.
Don Margolis can be reached 24/7/365 at 1 (215) 764-6312
Diabetics rush for 'cure'
'More and more energetic' ¦ Lynley White, 62, who has cardiomyopathy, had stem-cell treatment in Bangkok in October to improve her condition.
December 23, 2007
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AUSTRALIANS with type 2 diabetes are signing up for a costly, unproven stem cell "cure" at a South American clinic.
The clinic says 89per cent of its patients are insulin and medication-free 90 days after being injected with their own stem cells. The treatment costs $US16,000 ($18,500).
Some patients who have undergone the same stem-cell therapy for heart disease - which is illegal in all Western countries - say it has given them "a new lease on life".
But the world's leading stem-cell scientists warn that patients desperate for a miracle cure are putting themselves at grave risk by undergoing a treatment yet to be fully tested in humans.
ICORM director Mike Bartlett said more than 300 patients had been successfully treated for heart disease, diabetes, emphysema and Parkinson's disease at its hospitals in South America and Asia.
Mr Bartlett spent last week in Sydney meeting diabetes specialists and cardiologists to encourage them to refer their end-stage patients.
To date, 31 Australians with type2 diabetes and seven with heart disease had indicated a wish to travel to Argentina as soon as possible, and a further 208 had made inquiries, he said.
Dr Ross Walker, a Sydney Adventist Hospital cardiologist and author of the bestselling book The Cell Factor, said he would travel to the Clinic early next year to assess the claims for himself.
"I believe it is the next big thing in medicine but I want to see solid scientific evidence that it doesn't do any harm before recommending it for the wider population," he said.
Under the patented process, 250millilitres of a patient's blood is manipulated to yield millions of therapeutic stem cells. The cells are then injected into the diseased organ or tissue. Patients are usually sent home within two days.
Numerous patients have testified to the "miraculous" effects of the treatment, which uses adult stem cells, not the more ethically-questionable embryonic stem cells
. Keith Fanning said the $70,000 he spent flying his dying father, Mick, 75, to Bangkok for stem-cell therapy was "the best $70,000 I ever spent". Oxygen-dependent and barely able to walk before the procedure in July, Mr Fanning's ejection fraction (EF) - the measurement of the capacity at which the heart is pumping - increased so much that he can now breathe, talk and eat on his own.
His insulin dependency is also down and his violent shaking from Parkinson's has virtually disappeared.
"I'm the ultimate sceptic and it's the closest thing I've seen to a miracle," he said from his Queensland home.
In October, Lynley White, from Melbourne, spent $45,000 to have 30 stem-cell injections in her heart after traditional drug therapy failed to improve her cardiomyopathy.
"My doctors laughed at me and said I had rocks in my head but so far so good. I'm feeling more and more energetic," she said.
At 62, she was unlikely to receive the heart transplant she needed to keep going. Of the 120 people who have tried the treatment at Bangkok Heart Hospital, four have died. But Mrs White said her only fear was she would not survive the anaesthetic.
"My ejection fraction was getting lower and lower - it got down to 12 when it should be 55 plus - and I thought 'I've got to help myself'," she said.
Immediately after treatment her EF rating was up by 64 per cent.
Dr Teija Peura, director of human embryonic stem cell laboratories at the Australian Stem Cell Centre, said: "It's understandable that patients who are desperate can't wait for treatment to go through the approval process but it's dangerous because these countries are giving treatment which they don't know how or why [it] works."
The International Society for Stem Cell Research said the only stem cell-based therapy with clearly proven efficacy was bone marrow transplantation for blood disorders and leukaemia.