Adult stem cells: Medicine’s ‘best-kept secret’

“Over 1.5 million patients have had their lives saved and health improved by adult stem cell transplants”, a senior academic and stem cell expert has said.

This statement was made by David Prentice PhD, Research Director of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an organisation which promotes the value of human life.

Prentice was challenging claims made in the New York Times that stem cell therapy is “still mostly theory”.

Gold standard

Adult stem cell research does not require the destruction of human embryos, unlike research on embryonic stem cells.

Pointing to their effectiveness in treating patients and the ethical manner in which they are obtained, compared to embryonic stem cells, Prentice described adult stem cells as the “true gold standard for stem cells”.

He poured scorn on suggestions, made by veteran journalist Gina Kolata in the New York Times, that clinical trials are “still in the earliest phase”, citing the almost 3,500 open or completed trials using adult stem cells.

Articles such as Kolata’s serve only to “confuse, not illuminate, the facts about stem cell therapies”, he added.

Treatment

Prentice referenced research published last year in The Lancet, which documented just under one million heamopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT). It commends HSCT – which uses adult stem cells which form into blood cells – as an “efficient and cost-effective approach for life-threatening, potentially curable diseases.”

He also drew attention to a case in the US of mother-of-three Cindy Schroeder. She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer found in bone marrow. Her condition was so serious that her family was preparing to plan her funeral.

After receiving adult stem cell treatment she made a full recovery within six months. She said: “adult stem cells gave me a new lease on life”.

Remarkable potential

Recently in the UK, there have been numerous examples of how adult stem cells can be used to effectively treat a range of illnesses.

In July, The Times reported that adult stem cell treatment could be used to diminish angina symptoms and prevent the need for hip replacements, highlighting the research’s potential.

The Telegraph also reported in June the “remarkable” results of adult stem cell treatment on stroke patients, enabling wheelchair-bound patients to walk again.

More recently, osteoporosis sufferers were given hope after research emerged showing adult stem cells could be manipulated into bone cells, aiding tissue repair.