Friday, October 10, 2014

Type 1 Diabetics' Hope Rests in Dead Human Embryos

Once again, media propaganda is hyping a medical miracle cure resulting from embryonic stem cell research — this time it's type 1 diabetes.  However, as usual, a close study of the announced breakthrough reveals that it's adult stem cells (which don't requiring killing anyone), that may lead to the cure, rather than stem cells derived from the destruction of embryos.

For background, click headlines below to read previous articles:

Human Embryos Cloned, Killed to Harvest Stem Cells

Stem Cell Science Advances WithOUT Killing Embryos

Court OKs Obama Killing Embryos with Tax Dollars

Harvesting Blood of Children for Fountain of Youth

-- From "Stem Cell Success Raises Hopes of Type 1 Diabetes Cure" by Alan Mozes, HealthDay Reporter 10/9/14

In what may be a step toward a cure for type 1 diabetes, researchers say they've developed a large-scale method for turning human embryonic stem cells into fully functioning beta cells capable of producing insulin.

[Dr. Douglas] Melton, co-director of the Stem Cell Institute at Harvard [University], described his work as a "personal quest," given that he has two children with type 1 diabetes.

Stem cells are essentially undifferentiated cells that can be induced into becoming specialized cells that are tissue- or organ-specific, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In some cases, such cells are sourced from embryonic tissue. Alternatively, it's possible to derive stem cells from prespecialized adult cells that are then reprogrammed to morph into an undifferentiated state. These are called induced pluripotent stem cells [hiPSC].

Because the current effort was launched before the innovation of induced pluripotent stem cells [hiPSC], Melton said his team conducted its work using embryonic stem cells. Nevertheless, he said the newfound ability to generate large supplies of beta cells will work using either type.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Stem cell research offers hope on type 1 diabetes" by Carolyn Y. Johnson, Boston Globe Staff 10/9/14

In a paper published in the journal Cell on Thursday, [Melton] reported a step-by-step procedure that starts with stem cells and results in hundreds of millions of the precious pancreatic cells that secrete the hormone insulin, keeping blood sugar levels in balance. It is the lack of insulin produced by those cells, called beta cells, that lies at the root of type 1 diabetes.

Melton cautions that the work is still years from being tested in patients and many challenges, scientific and practical, remain. . . .

“We’re tired of curing mice,” Melton said in an interview. “Most patients are sick of hearing that something’s just around the corner; I’m sick of thinking things are just around the corner. But I do believe in the big picture.”

Earlier this year, [Dieter Egli, assistant professor in the pediatrics department at Columbia University Medical Center] was able to create embryonic stem cells from a person with type 1 diabetes, through a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer. He now plans to use Melton’s procedure to create the beta cells that are affected by the disease.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Giant leap against diabetes" by B. D. Colen, Harvard Gazette Staff Writer 10/9/14

With human embryonic stem cells as a starting point, the scientists were for the first time able to produce, in the kind of massive quantities needed for cell transplantation and pharmaceutical purposes, human insulin-producing beta cells equivalent in most every way to normally functioning beta cells.

Richard A. Insel, chief scientific officer at JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), which helps fund Melton’s work, said “JDRF is thrilled with this advancement toward large-scale production of mature, functional human beta cells by Dr. Melton and his team. . . .”

Eliot Brenner, program director of the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s type 1 diabetes program, said, “The trust is pleased to have supported Dr. Melton and his team in this breakthrough. . . .”

In addition to the institutions and individual cited above, the work was funded by the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the JPB Foundation.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "More Embryonic Stem Cell Hype, Less Reality and Ethics" by Dr. David Prentice, National Right to Life News Today 10/9/14

A paper from the lab of Dr. Doug Melton, published in the journal Cell, in fact, shows only an incremental improvement in deriving functional beta cells–the insulin secreting cells found in the pancreas.

Melton’s lab generated millions of insulin-secreting cells from human embryonic stem cells (hESC, which require the destruction of a young human being) and from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC, the stem cells created from normal skin cells, without using embryos).

The authors tested batches of what it called SC-ß cells made from hESC as well as from hiPSC.  The results were equivalent no matter the starting cell type.  So for any future production of SC-ß cells, the authors have shown that no embryonic stem cells are necessary.

This is essential to reiterate. The paper itself makes the case that embryonic stem cells are not needed for even this incremental advance or for any subsequent work. However, as is always the case when embryonic stem cells are involved, the hype drowns out the more complex truth.

In the past, the obsession with human embryonic stem cells has led to some questionable claims about their abilities to treat diabetes.  Their ability to make authentic insulin, in quantities that would be useful, were first trumpeted and then shown to be incorrect and even fake.  In fact, teratoma formation (tumors) was often the result or even the inducer of insulin secretion from ESC. Artifact = not real, fake

The obsession with ESC continues to make headlines, but that does not help patients. . . .

To read the entire technical explanation in the article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read President Obama Wins Ruling: Embryos WILL be Destroyed

And read Hollywood Actor Recants Embryonic Stem Cells for Parkinson's Cure