Practical Problems with Embryonic Stem Cells

While some researchers still claim that embryonic stem cells (ESCs) offer the best hope for treating many debilitating diseases, there is now a great deal of evidence contrary to that theory. Use of stem cells obtained by destroying human embryos is not only unethical but presents many practical obstacles as well.

"Major roadblocks remain before human embryonic stem cells could be transplanted into humans to cure diseases or replace injured body parts, a research pioneer said Thursday night. University of Wisconsin scientist James Thomson said obstacles include learning how to grow the cells into all types of organs and tissue and then making sure cancer and other defects are not introduced during the transplantation. 'I don't want to sound too pessimistic because this is all doable, but it's going to be very hard,' Thomson told the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's annual convention at the Kalahari Resort in this Wisconsin Dells town. 'Ultimately, those transplation therapies should work but it's likely to take a long time.'....Thomson cautioned such breakthroughs are likely decades away."

-Associated Press reporter Ryan J. Foley "Stem cell pioneer warns of roadblocks before cures," San Jose Mercury News Online, posted on Feb. 8, 2007, http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/16656570.htm

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"Although embryonic stem cells have the broadest differentiation potential, their use for cellular therapeutics is excluded for several reasons: the uncontrollable development of teratomas in a syngeneic transplantation model, imprinting-related developmental abnormalities, and ethical issues."

-Gesine Kgler et al., "A New Human Somatic Stem Cell from Placental Cord Blood with Intrinsic Pluripotent Differentiation Potential," Journal of Experimental Medicine, Vol. 200, No. 2 (July 19, 2004), p. 123.

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From a major foundation promoting research in pancreatic islet cells and other avenues for curing juvenile diabetes:

"Is the use of embryonic stem cells close to being used to provide a supply of islet cells for transplantation into humans?

"No. The field of embryonic stem cells faces enormous hurtles to overcome before these cells can be used in humans. The two key challenges to overcome are making the stem cells differentiate into specific viable cells consistently, and controlling against unchecked cell division once transplanted. Solid data of stable, functioning islet cells from embryonic stems cells in animals has not been seen."

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Practical Problems with Embryonic Stem Cells

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