BBC2 CLONING/STEM CELL DEBATE

Tuesday, December 14, 2004  

ACTION REQUIRED  
THURSDAY 16 DECEMBER 9pm “ 11pm - BBC2  
CLONING/STEM CELL DEBATE  


On Thursday at 9.00pm a programme called ˜If ... Cloning could cure us will be shown on BBC2 and will be followed by a debate on Newsnight with a chance to cast your vote. It is already getting considerable media coverage so may be an opportunity for an alternative to the embryonic stem cell argument to make an impact. Here is a link to the programme:  

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/if/4065719.stm  

CORE (Comment on reproductive Ethics) took part in the filming and would like to assure you that the intentions of the producers were relatively good, given the media s track record in this contentious field. They think they tried to address both sides of the argument and given the little credence that adult stem cells have received in the past, we should be grateful that they have at least tried to produce some balance.  

A soundbite not to forget is that 56 disease conditions in humans have been treated with adult stem cell therapies, and absolutely none with embryonic stem cells. (Ref: www.stemcellresearch.org)  

A lot of information is available on the CORE website where they keep a continual update on adult stem cell successes. www.corethics.org  
See recent developments under ˜News column on left of front page and for older articles click on ˜News under the title banner.  

We ask as many of you as possible to tune in and be geared up for the vote which will follow the Newsnight Debate, and for those of you who would appreciate an update on progress in the field of spinal cord repair and stem cells in general, please read the following:  

BRIEFING SHEET ON SPINAL INJURY, ADULT STEM CELL TECHNOLOGY AND THE FORTHCOMING BBC DOCUMENTARY: WHAT IF?  

1. Embryonic Stem cells “ a very poor therapeutic record  
Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) have never been used to treat/ cure any human patient suffering from any disease. All reference to the therapeutic potential of ESCs is entirely speculative. Even in research on animals, ESCs have performed badly. Few studies show any benefit to animals injected with ESCs. And a wealth of research shows that animals receiving ESCs are likely to develop cancer as a direct consequence.  

2. Adult Stem cells “ patients with spinal cord injuries now re-learning to walk  
Spinal cord injury is currently being treated using adult stem cells (ASCs). Scientists in Korea, Russia and Portugal are developing techniques which involve the implantation of adult stem cells into damaged spinal tissue. The results have been remarkable.  

Korea  
On 12th October 2004, Hwang Mi-Soon, 37, became the first patient to undergo a pioneering operation in Korea. She received an injection of umbilical cord cells into her spine. 3 weeks after the procedure she began to walk for the first time in 19 years. The research team was headed by Chosun University professor Song Chang-hun, Seoul National University professor Kang Kyung-sun and Han Hoon, Ph.D, from the Seoul Cord Blood Bank (SCB).  

Ref:  
The Korean Times (11 November 2004) http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/200411/kt2004112617575710440.htm  

The Daily Telegraph (30 November 2004) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2004/12/01/ecrcells30.xml  

Russia  
Andrei Bryukhovetsky, Director General of the Neurology Clinic, harvested adult stem cells from the olfactory bulbs (part of the brain) of six patients with spinal cord injury. These adult stem cells were then injected into the patient s spines. Prior to the procedure the patients had been bed-ridden. They are now learning to walk.  

Ref:  
RIA Novosti (6 December 2004) http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1295924/posts  

Portugal  
Dr Carlos Lima is a leading world expert on the use of adult stem cells in treating spinal cord injury. For some years patients have travelled to his clinic in Lisbon, Portugal. Dr Lima removes adult stem cells from the olfactory bulb and injects them back into the damaged spinal cord. Kim Gould recently became the first British patient to receive treatment from Dr Lima. For 6 years Kim has been confined to a wheel chair. She now has sensation in her legs and is learning to crawl.  

Ref:  
Daily Telegraph (6 December 2004)  
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/12/06/ncell06.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/12/06/ixnewstop.html  

Further Information  

3. Work in the UK  
Prof Geoff Raisman, director of the new Spinal Repair Unit at University College London, has conducted research similar to that of Carlos Lima and Andrei Bryukhovetsky. Prof Raisman has taken adult stem cells from laboratory rats and shown that when injected into damaged spinal tissue, the stem cells integrate with the damaged tissue and lay bridges over gaps in nerve fibres.  


4. Christopher Reeve  
Christopher Reeve spent the last decade of his life campaigning in favour of ESC research. He gave countless statements alleging that ESC research could cure him and that no one should be allowed to block its progress. Publicly he showed little regard for adult stem cell research. However, it has recently emerged that shortly before his death, Christopher Reeve was in contact with Andrei Bryukhovetsky, the Russian pioneer, and was considering Bryukhovetsky s offer of treatment.  


5. A quote from Dr Carlos Lima  

Mother Nature made embryonic stem cells to proliferate and adult stem cells to replace and repair.  

The above quote is the single best statement on ESC vs. ASC research that I have ever read. It gets right to the heart of some highly complex science. Embryonic stem cells are geared up to grow very fast. That s what embryos do. This is why ESCs generate fast growing cancers when implanted and why they are so hard to control. Adult stem cells exist throughout the adult body and have a long term role in the replacement of damaged tissue throughout our development. This makes them ideal for use in cellular replacement technology.  


Should you require any further information, please contact:  

Josephine Quintavalle or Elliott Cannell  
Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE)  
PO BOX 4593  
London  
SW3 6XE  
England  

Tel: 00 44 (0)20 7581 2623  
Fax: 00 44 (0)20 7581 3868  
www.corethics.org  

ENDS  

Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org  

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