May 20, 2004
German Scientists See Stem Cell Applications In 10 Years
The Scientist has a report on a Delphi Study of German stem cell researchers about the prospects for stem cell treatments in the next 20 years. (requires free registration)
The survey contained a list of potential stem cellĖbased medical applications, and asked participants when they felt these might be successfully done. Within the next 6 to 10 years, a majority of participants believe stem cell-based applications will be used for treatment of diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and Parkinson disease.
In the next 11 to 15 years, they see treatments for multiple sclerosis and the damaged nerves of paraplegics. Slightly more half expect stem cell treatments for Alzheimer disease in the next 11 to 20 years, while 36% say more than 20 years and 10% say such treatments will never come.
Alzheimer's strikes me as more likely to be solved by vaccines aimed at beta amyloid proteins than by stem cell treatments. For the average person who doesn't have type I diabetes the estimates for heart disease and Parkinson's are more exciting. While most people realize they are at risk of heart disease what is perhaps less widely appreciated is that above the age of 75 more than 1 in 10 persons get Parkinson's Disease. Also, people generally become less coordinated with age due to nerve cell loss. A stem cell treatment for Parkinson's might also help improve coordination and perhaps even cognitive function among the aged.
Curiously, more researchers were optimistic about the future of treatments based on adult stem cells than on embryonic stem cells. The reason for this is not clear from the report. Do the researchers see more difficult scientific problems or political obstacles for embryonic stem cells?
Also, the article makes no mention of organ replacement. Some form of stem cells will be the starting point for growing most types of replacement organs. It would be very interesting to know what these stem cell researchers see as the time line for solving stem cell and tissue engineering problems associated with growing replacement organs.
Once stem cells can be coaxed to go in and replace lost cells and to grow into replacement organs human life extension will become a reality. The replacement of worn out parts in cars allows cars to run far longer than their original design lifes. Building and installing replacement parts in humans is much more difficult. But all of the problems involved in human parts replacement are solvable. Some German stem cell researchers expect many of those problems to be solved in the next 20 years. Hurrah!
I am surprised by your comment
"Curiously, more researchers were optimistic about
the future of treatments based on adult stem cells
than on embryonic stem cells."
As far as I know the only successful used of stem cells
to date have all used adult stem cells. I believe all uses
of embryonic cells have failed. If my assertion is correct,
then you should not be surprised that researchers believe
adult cells are more promising.
One other point: I intentionally said "curiously" rather than "surprisingly". There are scientific obstacles to the use of each type of stem cell that are unique to that type. I find it hard to predict in advance which obstacles will be easier to overcome.
Use of one's own adult stem cells of course gets around a potential problem with immune incompatibility. But some day we will discover ways to get around immune problems. I just do not know in which decade those discoveries will take place. We could find we can easily avoid the problems this year or not solve the problems until the 2020s.
But I tend not to get as worked up about the embryonic stem cell debate as some do. Disallow the use of embryonic stem cells and scientists will discover ways to dedifferentiate adult cells all the way back to the embryonic stage. In fact, Scripps researchers have discovered a molecule they've named reversine which does dedifferentiation. But some of those same Scripps folks have also found a way to turn embryonic stem cells into heart muscle cells. I couldn't have predicted either of those discoveries a couple of years ago. So on stem cell research I'm reluctant to predict what'll happen 5 or 10 years from now or even next month.
Opponents of embryonic stem cell research ought to be much bigger supporters of funding for mass screening for compounds (which is what the Scripps guys did) that do cellular dedifferentiation. Such compounds do something analogous to computer programming and "program around" restrictions on embryonic stem cells by making stem cells that are just as flexible using adult cells as a starting point. Then we could use our own cells and avoid the need to fertilize an egg. That'd probably be satisfactory for some of those with moral objections to embryonic stem cells. Though I'm not sure they'd all be happy with that approach.
Iíve read that it is difficult to get an embryonic stem cell to differentiate properly into the desired tissue type. Much easier to use an appropriate adult stem cell. On the other hand adult stem cells with short telomers might have significantly less regenerative ability. One answer might be to use adult stem cells with artificially lengthened telomeres.
Iím guessing the first successful treatments will be with adult stem cells. In the long run I expect weíll use artificial gene engineered stem cells with greatly enhanced abilities.
I suffered a heart attack at sea....apprx. 36hrs from the Hawaiian Is. I remained concious for apprx. 8-10hrs. I lived and was Air-Vac to Maui. Four clogged arteries, all replaced. The procedure was done without By-passing the heart, four veins were installed while the heart was pumping to keep me alive. Because of the massive scar tissue build-up due to the damage of the heart attack, Cleveland Clinic performed a Doer Procedure to remove the dead tissue. My Ejection Refraction from the Left Ventrical is presently 30%. Immediatly following my heart attack it was as low as 15%. Normal is between 65% and 80%. Would stem cell application be able to regenerate live muscle tissue for me heart? I had heard this was done in Germany for a young man that had a nail gun nail shot into his heart muscle. Iam willing to discuss the possibility of using my biological system as a testing ground. Presently the hospital and insurance Heads of State are analyzing the perctenage values of inserting a defibrillation device in my chest. Invasive surgery and the device has to be replaced every 6 yrs. apprx. Any information would be greatly appreciated. I been breathing and passing gas for 50 years.....would like to attain another 50.....ha!..could be dreaming.
Thanksgiving Holiday of Family and Love, Regards, Kirk M. Piper (cell) 330-256-5192
P.O. Box 670462
Marietta, Georgia 30066 u.s.a
001 - 678-467-5288
samanaghdam @ aol .com
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Saman, and I would like to request some information and advice concerning a problem, facing me ( 29 years old) for the past 3 years.
I would try to be short and efficient.
Three years ago, I had an accident, resulting in a SPINAL INJURY,(had fusion back surgery),since then I haveno feeling, when he has to use bathroom ( pee ),I am also severely constipated since the accident and has to take all kinds of laxatives and stool softener. In order of not to take the chance of stretching the balder, I have to self-Catherize ( self-cast) every few hours, since I can not tell when his balder is full, or has to go pee.
I am also experiencing some minor sexual difficulties since the surgery.
The hardware ( fusion ) in My back was removed 3 months ago, and I have recovered almost completely from the back injury, but the Bladder problem is still persisting and is not showing any kind of improvement for the past 3 years.
I have been so desperate and hopeless and am a point that, I am willing to try any kind of treatment and I am interested in finding out about the stem cell research here in the U.S. or abroad.
Please, please, help me by providing some information or any kind of advice regarding the stem cell research in this area, and I am also willing to participate in any kind of study concerning his problem.
I appreciate your concern and compassion and please help me with any information that you can provide.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need any more information.
Would you inform me about who and where in Germany the
steam cell treatment is available for the heart?