The argument for embryonic stem cells as the potential solution for a vast array of human diseases has taken another significant hit with the successful testing of an adult cell that can match tissues in the heart, lung, liver, pancreas, blood vessels, brain, muscle, bone and fat.

The San Francisco research and development company Medistem Inc. says its newest tests reveal the cell can regenerate failed blood vessels, allowing a restoration of health in limbs once given no alternative but amputation.

Many medical researchers long have cited their desire for embryonic stem cells to study as a possible solution to myriad human diseases, although few results actually have been documented. Celebrities also have chimed in, including actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. During the 2006 election he lobbied for a Missouri plan that enshrined in the state constitution the right to clone human embryos for “research.”

Now officials with Medistem Laboratories have confirmed their Endometrial Regenerative Cell has treated an advanced form of peripheral artery disease known as critical limb ischemia successfully.

In a peer reviewed publication, the team supported by Medistem said the administration of ERC “preserved leg function and viability in animals induced to mimic the human condition of critical limb ischemia.”

“As a physician to sufferers of critical limb ischemia, I am extremely proud to be involved in developing therapeutic applications using the ERC cell. If approved by the FDA, we may one day provide this patient population with an option to amputation,” said Dr. Michael Murphy, a vascular surgeon who served as lead author.

Thomas Ichim, CEO for the publicly held company based in California, told WND that while the focus in the company’s current work is on blood vessels and specific circulation problems, the cell has been shown to regenerate into at least nine different types of tissues.

He said there are possibilities now to develop preventative or other treatments for liver disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, pulmonary disease, heart disease and others.

He said the adult stem cell, a naturally produced result of the menstrual cycle, also avoids some of the complications found with embryonic stem cells, such as a specific type of cancer.

The company has been collaborating with Murphy on its work for some time, and has filed patents covering the cells and various uses, as a sort of “universal donor” cell.

WND reported earlier when Missouri voters by a narrow margin approved a constitutional amendment that was advertised as a human cloning ban but, in fact, banned only a process of actually creating live humans from cloning. Its fine print established the right to clone human embryos in the constitution.

The American Life League opposed the plan because of the necessary “destruction of innocent human beings through cloning and embryonic stem cell research.”

According to Medistem, however, its process to obtain cells does not require the destruction of life, and its treatments can be administered as easily as an injection.

Its first specific application, to critical limb ischemia, an advanced form of atherosclerosis, means there could be alternatives now for the estimated 160,000 amputations that are done each year due to the disease.

WND reported months earlier when the scientist who helped ignite cultural and political controversy with the use of embryos in stem-cell research, James A. Thomson, reported using ordinary adult skin cells would accomplish essentially the same goals.

Thomson’s research said his process could turn ordinary human skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells without using a human embryo. In 1998, his laboratory was one of two that became the first to remove stem cells from human embryos, which destroyed the embryos in the process.

 


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