Purchase the book Right to Recover

Right to Recover ~ Winning the Political and Religious Wars Over Stem Cell Research in America presents scientific facts that challenge readers to think for themselves rather than accept political or religious views on stem cell research.

www.nightengalepress.com


This book is available by request in bookstores nationwide.


RIGHT TO RECOVER is an Award-Winning Finalist in the Current Events: Political/Social of the National Best Books 2007 Awards. Amazon Best-selling book in biomedical category.


Monday, December 31, 2007

THE POLITICS BEHIND THE NEW STEM CELL APPROACH—PART ONE

Teams lead by Shinya Yamanaka of Japan, and Jamie Thomson of Wisconsin have apparently succeeded in developing stem cells in a revolutionary new way. Induced Pluripotentiary Stem (IPS) cell research involves implanting four genes into a skin cell, thereby “turning back the clock”, into any earlier form.

Reprogramming skin cells into a potentially embryonic state is an amazing possibility. Unfortunately, opponents of embryonic stem cell research are attempting to use the advance in a negative way: to block research of equal or greater potential-- and to help elect opponents of research.

Certain politicians, known enemies of stem cell research, are shamelessly claiming credit for the new advance: as if their attempt to impose the darkness of scientific censorship somehow added to the light.

A ban on science is not a contribution.

Those who have systematically attacked the research should not now be rewarded, especially since they are already attempting to use IPS as a roadblock, not an advance.

The coming elections are crucial in determining the direction of science. Not only the future of stem cell research, but also the larger issue of funding for the entire National Institutes of Health (NIH) is at stake.

Read the rest of this article by Don Reed here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

USA BOOK NEWS

Right to Recover: Winning the Political and Religious Wars over Stem Cell Research in America by Yvonne Perry is currently listed live on USA BOOK NEWS at the following address:
http://www.usabooknews.com/additionalcategories/currentevents.html

Very best,

USA BOOK NEWS

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Stem Cell Radio Interview – Chicago

Mary Schneider did a radio interview about how her son was helped with stem cells from his own cord blog.. Her interview comes in about 5 minutes into the program.


Just click the speakers next to her name at this site: Radio Chicago Land.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

NEW STEM CELLS: IP for Induced Pluripotent (iP)- and Intensely Political?

Using viruses and genes, scientists Shinya Yamanaka, Junying Yu, and Jamie Thomson recently reprogrammed skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells.

The new method, Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cell research, may turn out to be hugely important—or not—or something in the middle. Not only the scientific world, but also millions of sufferers of chronic disease are eager to know its real value, as the new technique begins the long months and years of necessary testing, scrutiny and research.

Unfortunately, ideological groups are attempting to use the new method as an excuse to shut down embryonic stem research—while crediting its known opponents.

Chief among the latter is President George Bush, who twice vetoed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, and who supported jail sentences and million dollar fines for scientists involved with nuclear transfer, an advanced form of stem cell research.

Suddenly, Mr. Bush was being heaped with praise by conservatives, crediting for having somehow inspired the new research. Typical was the Discovery Institute’s Wesley Smith:

“So thank you for your courageous leadership, Mr. President. …we now have the very real potential of developing thriving and robust stem-cell medicine… that will bridge, rather than exacerbate, our moral differences over the importance and meaning of human life.”—National Review, “Bush Bears Fruit”, 11/20/2007

The Catholic Conference of Bishops has called upon the state of New York to transfer all its embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) funding to the new method. Several states are now considering legislation which would essentially ban ESCR—alleging that it has now been proven unnecessary….

Are they right? Read a brief (10 pages) compendium of quotes from expert witnesses on Don Reed’s Web site.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Play a Role in the Presidential Primaries

Urge the Candidates to Speak Out on Research and Health

Parkinson's Action Network encourages you to help make health research a priority by supporting Research America’s candidate questionnaire:

As an advocate for research to improve health, you know funding for NIH and CDC is a hot topic right now. But do you know where the candidates for President in 2008 stand on the issues? Help ensure the candidates speak out on health research by encouraging them to respond to the Your Candidates-Your Health: Presidential Primaries 2008 questionnaire.

Please go to www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org to let the candidates know you expect them to participate in the initiative. Click on each candidate's photo on www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org to find their contact information and a sample message you can send.

Please spread the word about Your Candidates-Your Health: Presidential Primaries 2008 to your members and colleagues. Strong encouragement to participate from the health community is essential to engaging the candidates in this important initiative.

Help make research to improve health an issue during the 2008 presidential primaries by visiting www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org and urging each candidate to respond to the questionnaire.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Epilepsy Seizures Treated with Fetal Stem Cells in the Dominican Republic

I met Christina Alex virtually while finishing my book Right to Recover. She was writing Recovering Clayton (the article below) for the November/December 2007 issue of 02138 Magazine.

A mother took her five-month-old for his second DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) shot which produced an adverse reaction that caused him to start having seizures that could not be helped by traditional medicine. The family turned to stem cell treatments outside of the US. Here's their story...

*******

Azita and I are both certain that stem cells saved Clayton.

At three in the morning one day in early 2004, George Clayton Fatheree III woke up with the feeling that something was wrong. He turned toward his three-year-old namesake, his son, Clayton. Moments later, the child’s face contorted into a grotesque mask, his eyes shooting up to one side, then rolling slowly to the other side. “It’s okay,” then-28-year-old George comforted him, stroking his hair and holding him. “It’s okay.”

A minute or two later, the exhausted toddler fell asleep. George prayed for just a few uninterrupted minutes for his son. Five minutes later, the boy shrieked in pain as another seizure sent a spasm up his left arm, crossed his face, and gripped his right arm—“the most terrifying thing you’ve ever seen,” George recalls.
Hours later, after George left for work, his wife Azita, then 33, and a nurse spent hours force-feeding a mute and limp Clayton a liquid diet through a syringe; he’d lost the cognitive ability to chew, swallow, even defecate. But no matter how hard George and Azita worked, Clayton’s condition continued to deteriorate. They had tried every treatment they could find; nothing was helping their son.

The Fatherees had already taken Clayton to so many doctors that they’d lost track, researched every possible treatment, and devoted countless hours to his care. Now, with their conventional options exhausted, the Fatherees felt they had no choice but to consider a treatment that has prompted vociferous criticism from the scientific establishment, is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and could possibly worsen their son’s condition. But with Clayton fading away, did they really have a choice?

http://www.02138mag.com/magazine/article/1765.html

Friday, December 21, 2007

THE POLITICS BEHIND THE NEW STEM CELL APPROACH—PART ONE

Teams lead by Shinya Yamanaka of Japan, and Jamie Thomson of Wisconsin have apparently succeeded in developing stem cells in a revolutionary new way. Induced Pluripotentiary Stem (IPS) cell research involves implanting four genes into a skin cell, thereby “turning back the clock”, into any earlier form.

Reprogramming skin cells into a potentially embryonic state is an amazing possibility. Unfortunately, opponents of embryonic stem cell research are attempting to use the advance in a negative way: to block research of equal or greater potential-- and to help elect opponents of research.

Certain politicians, known enemies of stem cell research, are shamelessly claiming credit for the new advance: as if their attempt to impose the darkness of scientific censorship somehow added to the light.

A ban on science is not a contribution.

Those who have systematically attacked the research should not now be rewarded, especially since they are already attempting to use IPS as a roadblock, not an advance.

The coming elections are crucial in determining the direction of science. Not only the future of stem cell research, but also the larger issue of funding for the entire National Institutes of Health (NIH) is at stake.

Read the rest of this article by Don Reed at www.stemcellbattles.com

Don C. Reed is co-chair (with Karen Miner) of Californians for Cures, and writes for their web blog, www.stemcellbattles.com. Reed was citizen-sponsor for California’s Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999, named after his paralyzed son; he worked as a grassroots advocate for California’s Senator Deborah Ortiz’s three stem cell regulatory laws, served as an executive board member for Proposition 71, the California Stem Cells for Research and Cures Act, and is director of policy outreach for Americans for Cures. The retired schoolteacher is the author of five books and thirty magazine articles, and has received the National Press Award.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

President Sends Soldiers to War then Refuses to fund research that might cure them

The Lancet is a highly respected British medical journal, which estimated in December 2006 (over a year ago) that 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the war that started in 2003. That’s almost twice the estimated 300,000 people killed by Saddam Hussein during his 23 years of brutal rule. More American soldiers have died in the Iraq war (3,008 and counting) than were killed in the 9-11 attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania (2,794). A growing number of conservatives openly challenging the Bush administration’s war tactics have agreed that a full military victory to establish democracy in Iraq is not possible. Senator John McCain said American troops in Iraq were “fighting and dying for a failed policy.”

Nevertheless, the war rages on and many of our loved ones such as my dear friend Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s son continues to fight on our behalf.

What about those soldiers who come home from war with serious injuries? What help is available to them? Blastocystic (embryonic) stem cell research might have produced a cure for spinal cord injury or at least given hope to soldiers and others who suffer with debilitating disease and medical conditions had our president not vetoed The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. He vetoed it not once, but twice. All the legislation wanted to do was change the law to allow the creation date of the cells produced via in vitro fertilization to 2007. This would only include blastocysts belonging to couples who no longer need them for reproductive purposes. These cells would otherwise be discarded.

The Bush administration already allows federal funding for cells produced prior to August 2001. These NIH-approved cell lines that were supposed to have such great promise have been found to be unusable for research purposes because they were developed using animal feeder layers of cells. Being created in such a manner poses a risk of contamination with mouse viruses or proteins making these cell lines clinically unusable for human research or for treating diseases in humans. These cells are clearly inadequate to advance stem cell science, let alone to take that science from the lab to the bedside. Furthermore, there are only about 19 cell lines remaining and they do not represent a wide variety of genetic diversity.

Since 2001, scientists have developed techniques for establishing embryonic stem cell lines without using mouse cells. Researchers say that the Bush-approved lines are hard to work with, and most stem cell researchers won’t bother trying to grow new lines from them in the lab. The knowledge of how to work with the old lines is obsolete, and researchers who are new to this field do not have the “old” knowledge. Instead, they possess cutting-edge and up-to-date skills in working with newer lines that are easier to work with because they renew more quickly for reproducibility. These new lines would include diversity in race and genetic types. What is so significant about a date? If the U.S. is willing to fund research on a limited number of IV-Bs, then why not fund research on all of them? It could mean the difference in a US soldier being able to support his family. It could be your loved one who might be able to walk again.

We’ve wasted enough energy protesting something that might be used for the good of millions of suffering Americans. The war will hopefully be over soon and it is my prayer that all our soldiers are returned safely home. For those who do come home with paralyzed limbs, I pray that funding for blastocystic stem cell research will be released and that the technology will provide cures and treatments for those who have served our country.

Unfortunately, the very same President who sent our loved ones to war has prevented any chance for their recovery through the very promising stem cells derived from what might be considered medical garbage. Religious beliefs and the spread of false information by right-wing extremists should not stand in the way of humanitarian policy-making in the US.

The only way we are going to discover the potential contained in blastocyst stem cell technology is to allow research to take place, and that requires many funds that could be appropriated from government programs that are wasting taxpayers’ money.

The Bush veto and controversy over stem cell research is totally unnecessary. If only people knew the truth about the biology of the research. The misinformation out there bothered me enough to provoke me to write a book about it. My purpose is to educate folks so they can make their own decisions about whether or not to support blastocystic stem cell research. Even if you don’t purchase my book, I invite you to visit my blog (http://right2recover.blogspot.com) and learn as much as you can about this important science.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bipolar and Stem Cell Authors Share Booth

Way back in 2005, a dear friend of mine, Angela Grett, and I co-wrote a book on bipolar disorder. Her book My Mother's Bipolar, So What am I? has done quite well on the market thanks to her many speaking engagements with NAMI.

Angie and I caught up on old times when we shared a booth at Religious Science Nashville for their health & wellness expo in November. We had a great time signing our books and speaking with visitors.

Monday, December 17, 2007

HELPING OTHERS HEAL


HELPING OTHERS HEAL


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 2007) – Nashville author, freelance writer and speaker Yvonne Perry (center) celebrates the release of her new book, Right to Recover, with Rev. Dan Bloodworth (left) and Mary Parker, a Nashville attorney and representative for the John Edwards presidential campaign. Perry launched her book with a speech, an audiovisual presentation, live music by Tom Shinness, and a book signing on Oct. 23 at Borders Books & Music, 2525 West End Ave. in Nashville.

In Right to Recover: Winning the Political and Religious Wars over Stem Cell Research in America (Nightengale Press), Perry uses more than 600 hours of intensive research and interviews to challenge the validity of President Bush’s decision to deny federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The book contains insights from dozens of researchers, doctors, and political and religious figures, as well as stories from patients who hope to transform their lives through stem cell implants.

The 340-page book, which retails for $19.95, explores the research being done using stem cells derived from in vitro fertilized eggs on laboratory animals and presents findings to support its curative potential on humans. The book has been endorsed by organizations such as Cure Paralysis Now, the Christopher Reeve Foundation, and Parkinson’s foundations from several states. For more information about Right to Recover, call (615) 884-1224, send an e-mail to write_on_yvonne@comcast.net, or visit www.right2recover.com.

###

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mary Schneider for Illinois State Representative 50th District

Mary Schneider Receives AFL-CIO Endorsement

Mary Schneider, Democratic candidate for State Representative in Illinois’ 50th House District, is honored to receive the endorsement of the Illinois AFL-CIO.

“The Illinois AFL-CIO and I both have the same priority, to be an active voice for the working families in the State of Illinois. They advocate for an economy that works for everyone, health care for all, safe fair working conditions and a living wage. I believe that strengthening the middle class is an important step in strengthening the economy and creating a bright future for our children,” said Schneider.

Though this race is Schneider’s first run for public office she is no newcomer to politics. She has been an advocate for responsible Stem Cell research both in the Illinois Legislature and the U .S. Congress. In 2007 Schneider assisted in drafting legislation for the Illinois Cord Blood Banking Bill (SB0019) to standardize collection procedures and comply with federal regulations. She has worked with Governor Blagojevich, Senator Obama and has spoken with President Bush on the issue. Schneider was also a research adviser and contributor to the award winning book “Right to Recover – Winning the political and religious wars over stem cell research in America.

Born in Chicago and raised in the Midwest, Schneider studied Political Science and Pre-Law at University of Iowa. She then went into medical administration management. She and her husband, Steve, are raising their two children in Batavia, IL. She is currently serving her second year as Parent-Teacher Organization President at Alice Gustafson Elementary School in Batavia and is a member of the Batavia Interschool Council.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bonati Arthroscopic Surgery Institute of Hudson, FL

A friend of mine would like to have treatment at the Bonati Arthroscopic Surgery Institute of Hudson, Florida. However, this center will not take any form of currency, check, Visa, yen, peso, gold or any remuneration from a Medicare patient or person that happens to be disabled and on Medicare.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dr. Evan Snyder on the latest breakthrough regarding skin cells

Excerpt from Bradley Fikes North County Times article 11-22-07:

"However, Goldstein said even if the new method produces perfect embryonic stem cells, that in itself could cause objections. He said that one person he talked to said that if the cells could give rise to all the cell types in
the human body -- the so-called "totipotent" cells made by a fertilized egg -- they would be the moral equivalent of human embryos.

Evan Snyder, head of stem cell research at the Burnham Institute, said success in making embryonic cells from skin cells doesn't prove that the president was right with his restrictions. The genes used to produce embryonic cells from skin cells were discovered through working with natural embryonic stem cells, he said.

"What we find is that each informs the other," Snyder said. "If you're talking about therapy, they need to be tested head-to-head in the exact same animal model to see which is most useful in a particular disease . ... You may need one type of cell for one disease, and another type of cell for another disease.

Snyder said Bush's restrictions on embryonic stem cell research actually retarded the breakthrough reported this week, perhaps by five years."


Rayilyn Brown
Board Member AZNPF
Arizona Chapter National Parkinson's Foundation

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH PROGRESS

Embryonic stem cell research is an amazingly new science, begun in 1998 by Dr. James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin. Despite continual political attacks, and extremely limited funding, human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) research has already made a substantial contribution to the battle against incurable disease and disability. Below is a sampling of embryonic stem cell research progress.

ALS: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease: At the University of Wisconsin at Madison, scientists have turned hESC into motor neurons (nerves which carry messages between brain and body), offering possibilities for repairing damage caused by ALS, spinal cord injury, and other nerve-related disorders.
--Nature Biotechnology, January 30, 2005

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE: Until now, it was impossible to study the complete progress of this horrific disease, which robs sufferers of both memory and life. We do not know how or why or even exactly when it begins. With human embryonic stem cells, (hESC), however, we may be able to isolate the disease and observe its progress from inception to death on human tissue cells, not human beings. hESCs may also provide a new way to design better Alzheimer’s medicines. Dr. Lawrence Goldstein of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UCSD, is using hESC to test new ideas of how Alzheimer’s disease develops, and how it might be treated.
--L. Goldstein, personal communication, March 26, 2005

BIOLOGICAL PACEMAKERS: In Israel, Dr. Izhak Kehat and Dr. Lior Gepstein grew heart stem cells in a Petri dish, and transplanted them into the severely damaged hearts of pigs. Eleven of thirteen hearts regained more normal heart rates. Control animals had no improvement. Their work indicates that stem cell transplantation can translate into clinical benefit for heart disease sufferers.
--Washington Post, September 26, 2004

BLINDNESS: The major cause of blindness in Americans over age 60 is macular degeneration: the loss of retinal cells in the eye. Dr. Robert Lanza and Dr. Irina Klimanskaya of Advanced Cell Technology in New Jersey used hESC to make retinal cells, which may one day offer the return of vision to millions suffering from blindness due to retinal disease.
--Medical Science News, September 23, 2004

CANCER: The speed at which cancer develops is a major obstacle in curing this devastating disease. At Kumamoto University in Japan, and Cambridge University in England, surface proteins were developed that could mark cancer stem cells, laying ground work for new drugs that may one day slow, or even turn off, tumor formation. Advancing understanding about cancer stem cells draws from knowledge gained about the growth and development of hESCs. This work will open the door to a day when cancer treatments may be truly curative.
--University of Cambridge, 19 January, 2005

CYSTIC FIBROSIS: Cystic fibrosis inflames the lungs, strangling CF patients in thick slimy mucous. Using hESCs, Dr. Stephen Minger of King’s College, London, developed a stem cell line of cystic fibrosis. Now the disease can be studied in a human cell line that has genetic mutations akin to those seen in CF sufferers.
--BBC News UK, September 9 2004

DEAFNESS: The death of tiny hair cells inside the ear contributes to deafness for an estimated 28 million Americans. These cells do not naturally regrow. However, using hESC techniques, Dr. Stefan Heller of Boston’s Eye and Ear Infirmary has generated these inner-ear hair cells, raising the possibility that this technique may lead to new treatments for the deaf.
--Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, October 27, 2004

DIABETES: At Stanford University, researchers have made insulin-producing cells from mouse embryonic cells. When transplanted into diabetic mice, these cells reduced blood sugar fluctuations and increased lifespan (1). And at the University of Miami, Dr. Juan Dominguez Bendala isolated a protein necessary to turn embryonic stem cells into large quantities of insulin-producing pancreatic cells (2).
--1.http://www.diabetes.co.uk/htm/news/newstemcellstudy.htm
--2. Beacon Journal, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, September 7, 2004

GROWING HUMAN TISSUE: At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Robert Langer used embryonic stem cells to grow liver, cartilage, nerve tissue and blood vessels, all of which appeared to function normally when transplanted into mice.
--Boston Globe, October 28, 2003

HEMOPHILIA: At the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Dr. Jeffrey Fair and Dr. Oliver Smithies used ES cells to reverse hemophilia (blood clotting disorder) in mice.
--Science Daily, February 15, 2005

IMMUNE SYSTEM DISEASE: Cambridge, Massachusetts: Adult mice were bred without the gene RAG-2, needed for the immune system. Using Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT, or therapeutic cloning) to make the cells, RAG-2 was given to the mice, partially restoring the non-functioning immune system. This successful proof-of-principle experiment reveals possible benefits for the battle against AIDS.--Cell, April 5, 2002, (1) 17-22

PARKINSON’S: Israel’s Dr. Benjamin Reubinoff transplanted human embryonic stem cells into the brains of rats which did not have dopamine-producing nerve cells. (Dopamine in a healthy body controls motion; loss of dopamine production in the brain is associated with a Parkinson’s sufferer’s shaking). Implanted stem cells became dopamine-producing cells and brought significant improvements in the animal’s motion relative to controls.--BBC News,
June 30, 2004

SPINAL CORD INJURY PARALYSIS: Using hESCs, Dr. Hans Keirstead in the Roman Reed Laboratory at UC Irvine restored myelin insulation around damaged nerves, returning motion to partially paralyzed rats.—Journal of Neuroscience, accepted for publication, March 31, 2005. See also New York Times, February 23, 2005)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Stem Cell Wars Are Not Over

The Stem Cell Wars Are Not Over was written November 30, 2007 by Susan Solomon, who is with the New York organization with a parallel mission to Wisconsin Stem Cell Now.

Susan writes:

Nothing would give the millions of people afflicted with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and spinal cord injuries a greater thrill than to be able to rejoice that the debates around stem cell research are finally over, and "the Holy Grail has been achieved," as Charles Krauthammer put it in an astonishing piece in the Washington Post. Krauthammer said that last week's announcements that researchers from Wisconsin and Japan had discovered how to reprogram adult skin cells to resemble embryonic stem cells means that George Bush was right, that we have now found a way to create "a magical stem cell that can become bone or brain or heart or liver" without using human embryos.

It is not true.

It is not even close to true.

The new "induced pluripotentiary stem cells" (IPS for short) that scientists have now figured out how to make will be powerful tools for scientists studying the mechanisms of human diseases in their laboratories, and there is no doubt that this is an important scientific event. But these reprogrammed cells cannot be used to treat human patients in the clinic, because they were created using genes and retroviruses that can cause cancer in humans. Moreover, even if other, safe ways of producing these new IPS cells are found, no one yet knows the extent to which these new cells will behave like true human embryonic stem cells.

Krauthammer and others who are seeking to justify current federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research would like to think that IPS cells are exactly the same as embryonic stem cells, but they are not. We know now that human embryonic stem cell lines, both those that are recognized by the 2001 federal guidelines and those that have been developed since then, come in many different types and vary greatly from one to the other, most importantly in their ability to form differentiated cells (heart, pancreas, neurons) of a particular type that can be used for therapy. Will the new IPS cells be able to do this? We do not yet know. This new technique of developing stem cells is only a way station in a much longer journey, not a destination.

To suggest, as Krauthammer and others have, that we now have no need to work with stem cells created from embryos is to say that we can put aside the research that remains the most promising and important. It is a conclusion based on political, not scientific, considerations. Unfortunately, those political considerations seem to have motivated much of the reporting on these new discoveries -- even though one of the scientists who discovered the new technology, Shinya Yamanaka, felt so strongly that his work did not pre-empt other kinds of stem cell research that he co-authored a letter with several colleagues published in the journal Cell Stem Cell titled "New Advances in IPS Cell Research Do Not Obviate the Need for Human Embryonic Stem Cells."

Yamanaka and his colleagues wrote: "We hold that research into all avenues of human stem cell research must proceed together. Society deserves to have the full commitment of scientific inquiry at its service. And science is a practice that works best when it is approached with an open and creative mind. Research into one approach can inspire new ideas in unpredictable and exciting ways."

Of course he is right. It is crucial to our ultimate success to allow wide access to all of the stem cell lines that have already been created from embryos as well as to continue to create new lines for comparative and other purposes, including the research that can only be done with human embryonic stem cells. To gain the most benefit from the new discoveries, it is urgent -- as urgent as it was before these announcements -- that the current federal restrictions be lifted. For many kinds of research, there is still no substitute for actual human embryonic stem cells, and these new discoveries simply don't change that fact.

The greatest loss of all would be if these exciting new discoveries were allowed to create the false belief that the kind of research opposed by the Bush administration -- research involving actual human embryonic stem cells rescued from frozen embryos that would otherwise have been discarded -- was no longer necessary, and if the funds needed to advance that research, which have been hard enough to raise in the absence of federal support, were to become scarcer still. If it becomes even harder to fund human embryonic stem cell research in light of these new discoveries, they will, ironically, end up being as much a roadblock to scientific progress as an advance, which is something the researchers behind them never wanted to see happen. The only voices saying that these new discoveries have made the debate over stem cell research moot are the voices that were opposed to human embryonic stem cell research all along.

Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa once said that science is like looking for a treasure behind closed doors that can only be opened by experiment. Since we don't know which door conceals the treasure, it is important to open as many as possible. "It is like you have got 10 doors that are closed and you do not know behind which door may lie the answer. If you [only] look behind one door, you have got a 10-percent chance of finding that answer," he has said. And last week, referring to Yamanaka and Thomson's discoveries, Senator Harkin said, "These scientists have performed truly groundbreaking and historic accomplishments. Still, our top researchers recognize that this new development does not mean that we should discontinue studying embryonic stem cells - scientists may yet find that embryonic stem cells are more powerful."

If only science were just a matter of following a single path. Doing all we can to further human embryonic stem cell research will advance the search for cures of the major diseases of our time, and it should still be the number one priority for researchers, as well as for the private funders who today are the only sources of support for this vital scientific work. It is far too soon to call "Game Over" in the stem cell debates.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Stem Cell Wars Are Not Over

The Stem Cell Wars Are Not Over was written November 30, 2007 by Susan Solomon, who is with the New York organization with a parallel mission to Wisconsin Stem Cell Now.

Susan writes:

Nothing would give the millions of people afflicted with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and spinal cord injuries a greater thrill than to be able to rejoice that the debates around stem cell research are finally over, and "the Holy Grail has been achieved," as Charles Krauthammer put it in an astonishing piece in the Washington Post. Krauthammer said that last week's announcements that researchers from Wisconsin and Japan had discovered how to reprogram adult skin cells to resemble embryonic stem cells means that George Bush was right, that we have now found a way to create "a magical stem cell that can become bone or brain or heart or liver" without using human embryos.

It is not true.

It is not even close to true.

The new "induced pluripotentiary stem cells" (IPS for short) that scientists have now figured out how to make will be powerful tools for scientists studying the mechanisms of human diseases in their laboratories, and there is no doubt that this is an important scientific event. But these reprogrammed cells cannot be used to treat human patients in the clinic, because they were created using genes and retroviruses that can cause cancer in humans. Moreover, even if other, safe ways of producing these new IPS cells are found, no one yet knows the extent to which these new cells will behave like true human embryonic stem cells.

Krauthammer and others who are seeking to justify current federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research would like to think that IPS cells are exactly the same as embryonic stem cells, but they are not. We know now that human embryonic stem cell lines, both those that are recognized by the 2001 federal guidelines and those that have been developed since then, come in many different types and vary greatly from one to the other, most importantly in their ability to form differentiated cells (heart, pancreas, neurons) of a particular type that can be used for therapy. Will the new IPS cells be able to do this? We do not yet know. This new technique of developing stem cells is only a way station in a much longer journey, not a destination. To suggest, as Krauthammer and others have, that we now have no need to work with stem cells created from embryos is to say that we can put aside the research that remains the most promising and important. It is a conclusion based on political, not scientific, considerations. Unfortunately, those political considerations seem to have motivated much of the reporting on these new discoveries -- even though one of the scientists who discovered the new technology, Shinya Yamanaka, felt so strongly that his work did not pre-empt other kinds of stem cell research that he co-authored a letter with several colleagues published in the journal Cell Stem Cell titled "New Advances in IPS Cell Research Do Not Obviate the Need for Human Embryonic Stem Cells."

Yamanaka and his colleagues wrote: "We hold that research into all avenues of human stem cell research must proceed together. Society deserves to have the full commitment of scientific inquiry at its service. And science is a practice that works best when it is approached with an open and creative mind. Research into one approach can inspire new ideas in unpredictable and exciting ways."

Of course he is right. It is crucial to our ultimate success to allow wide access to all of the stem cell lines that have already been created from embryos as well as to continue to create new lines for comparative and other purposes, including the research that can only be done with human embryonic stem cells. To gain the most benefit from the new discoveries, it is urgent -- as urgent as it was before these announcements -- that the current federal restrictions be lifted. For many kinds of research, there is still no substitute for actual human embryonic stem cells, and these new discoveries simply don't change that fact.
The greatest loss of all would be if these exciting new discoveries were allowed to create the false belief that the kind of research opposed by the Bush administration -- research involving actual human embryonic stem cells rescued from frozen embryos that would otherwise have been discarded -- was no longer necessary, and if the funds needed to advance that research, which have been hard enough to raise in the absence of federal support, were to become scarcer still. If it becomes even harder to fund human embryonic stem cell research in light of these new discoveries, they will, ironically, end up being as much a roadblock to scientific progress as an advance, which is something the researchers behind them never wanted to see happen. The only voices saying that these new discoveries have made the debate over stem cell research moot are the voices that were opposed to human embryonic stem cell research all along.

Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa once said that science is like looking for a treasure behind closed doors that can only be opened by experiment. Since we don't know which door conceals the treasure, it is important to open as many as possible. "It is like you have got 10 doors that are closed and you do not know behind which door may lie the answer. If you [only] look behind one door, you have got a 10-percent chance of finding that answer," he has said. And last week, referring to Yamanaka and Thomson's discoveries, Senator Harkin said, "These scientists have performed truly groundbreaking and historic accomplishments. Still, our top researchers recognize that this new development does not mean that we should discontinue studying embryonic stem cells - scientists may yet find that embryonic stem cells are more powerful."

If only science were just a matter of following a single path. Doing all we can to further human embryonic stem cell research will advance the search for cures of the major diseases of our time, and it should still be the number one priority for researchers, as well as for the private funders who today are the only sources of support for this vital scientific work. It is far too soon to call "Game Over" in the stem cell debates.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Former Right-Winger speaks in favor of stem cell research

It is rare for a spiritual writer, who believes in oneness, love, compassion and higher consciousness to take on such a controversial topic.

Yvonne Perry's newest book: Right to Recover - Winning the Political and Religious Was Over Stem Cell Research in America is dedicated to all those who suffer with an illness or injury that might be cured or alleviated through stem cell technology. This book is also written for those who want to expand their knowledge and open their minds and hearts.

Listen today, Thursday, December 6th, 2007 at 1pm Central Standard Time at www.radiofreenashville.org or listen anytime at: http://www.windowstowellness.com/Yvonne_Perry.html

I hope you enjoy this program.

Blessings and Namaste!

Linda Woods
www.windowstowellness.com
www.ahealingvoice.com

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Being so thrilled about "embryonic-like" cells must reveal acceptance of the value of embryonic stem cells

"One of the researchers involved in yesterday's reports said the Bush restrictions may have slowed discovery of the new method, since scientists first had to study embryonic cells to find out how to accomplish the same thing without embryos."

"My feeling is that the political controversy set the field back four or five years," said James Thomson, who led a team at the University of Wisconsin and who discovered human embryonic stem cells in 1998.

I'm wondering why "embryonic-like" cells are so much better than embryonic cells (except they may be easier to obtain than ESCs), leaving aside the bogus moral argument, for the sake of argument. Being so thrilled that iPSs are "embryonic-like" seems to reveal an acceptance of their value.

Rayilyn Brown
Board Member AZNPF
Arizona Chapter National Parkinson's Foundation
rbrown@aznpf.org

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

THE FUTURE OF THE STEM CELL DEBATE

As policymakers and the public debate goes forward, Ed Fallone, President of Wisconsin Stem Cell Now, Inc. www.wistemcellnow.org wrote me with a statement regarding Stem Cell Now's position on recent developments in stem cell research.

Mr. Fallone believes that the science will continue to advance, but that the basic policy choice is the same. "Our nation must support all promising medical research," he wrote. "The existence of a new alternative to embryonic stem cell research does not mean that other forms of research should be abandoned."

THE FUTURE OF THE STEM CELL DEBATE

In the wake of the stunning announcement by Dr. James Thomson that he and his team had succeeded in reprogramming human skin cells to create new stem cell lines, many people have begun to speculate on the effect that this breakthrough will have on the stem cell debate. As the parent of a child with diabetes, it is my hope that Dr. Thomson’s breakthrough will allow our nation to move forward with a national policy that increases public funding of all forms of stem cell research. I would like to believe that we will see an end to the contentious debate over this research that has caused years of delay and that too often has left researchers without adequate resources.

I am not optimistic, however. Dr. Thomson’s breakthrough will not end the debate because stem cell lines derived from donated embryos will continue to comprise an important part of the research agenda, even while researchers rush to explore Dr. Thomson’s new technique. Researchers will need to determine whether stem cell lines derived from skin cells are an adequate substitute for pre-existing embryonic lines derived from embryos. To evaluate the usefulness of the new stem cell lines, parallel experiments will need to be conducted comparing their longevity and malleability with stem cell lines derived from embryos. Funding these comparisons means funding research that uses embryonic lines.

Nor should we abandon experiments that are already well underway using existing stem cell lines derived from embryos. Important knowledge is being gained that will be lost or delayed for decades if researchers start from scratch using new lines. The fact is that, for the foreseeable future, we will need to continue conducting research that uses stem cell lines derived from embryos, just as we should (rightly) continue research already underway using stem cell lines derived from adult tissue or umbilical cords.

The new breakthrough merely proves what advocates of medical research have said all along: we must fund all avenues of research because no one can predict where the breakthrough will come from. It is wrong for elected officials to use religious or political considerations to dictate a preferred area of inquiry in medical research. Ultimately, the debate over stem cell research will continue because a vocal minority refuses to concede that the health of us all requires that the demands of science must trump their personal objections.

Why should we as a society give a minority of the population (albeit a well organized and vocal minority) a veto power over how public dollars are used in health related spending? Is it proper for a minority to decide that public dollars should fund projects that are in accord with their religious beliefs (i.e., promotion of abstinence) but not projects that are inconsistent with their reading of the Bible (i.e., in vitro fertilization)? Finally, why is their religious belief that a human being is fully formed at the moment that a sperm unites with an egg given preference over my religious belief, or the Jewish faith, or the Presbyterian faith?

The stem cell debate is part and parcel of a larger debate over undue religious influence in determining health care policy. This influence affects all of us, and it is keeping our nation from devoting the resources and coordination necessary to make medical advances. The lack of a national policy supporting all forms of stem cell research has resulted in a duplicative and inconsistent patchwork of state and private funding, which has wasted time and resources.

Our nation needs to stop favoring one type of medical research over another on the basis of religious criteria. None of us, no matter how well meaning, can dictate how or when the cure to diseases will be found. That is why we need to support all forms of stem cell research.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

SCIENTISTS TURN SKIN CELLS INTO EMBRYO-LIKE STEM CELLS

Rayilyn Brown wrote this article for the AZNPF winter newsletter using about 100 sources:

SCIENTISTS TURN SKIN CELLS INTO EMBRYO-LIKE STEM CELLS

On November 20, 2007, scientists in the United States and Japan announced that a major breakthrough in stem cell research had been achieved by turning human skin cells into embryo-like stem cells. It is hoped that in the future thousands of labs will have the capacity to reprogram skin cells to function in much the same way as embryonic stem cells while avoiding the religious and ethical barriers that surround embryonic stem cell research today.

Although opponents of embryonic stem cell research are claiming victory and asserting that it and SCNT (therapeutic cloning) are no longer necessary, the war is not over. In announcing their discoveries, Dr. James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University emphasized that much more research needs to be done on stem cells that have been derived from human embryos.

According to Thomson, “It’s not the time to say human embryonic stem cell research is dead.” Thomson, who first isolated embryonic stem cell lines in 1998, stressed that this breakthrough would not have been possible without embryonic stem cell research and that the religious and political controversy over embryonic stem cell research has set the field back five years.

Dr. Yamanka, the principal author of the study published by the journal Cell, echoed that view, arguing it would be “premature” to conclude that the cells created in his lab would replace embryonic stem cells.

“Like embryonic stem cells, these reprogrammed cells become ‘pluripotent’ - that is, they’re capable of turning themselves into virtually any tissue in the human body, including neurons and heart tissue. They also exhibit many of the of the biochemical properties of embryonic stem cells, although they’re not genetically identical to stem cells.”

The application of this research to treating people with Parkinson’s disease and other conditions depends on whether the following problems can be solved:

Dr. Robert Lanza, Advanced Cell Technology’s chief scientific officer, points out that

“First of all, the function of the reprogrammed cells will have to be compared closely with the function of actual embryonic stem cells.” Will religious fundamentalists allow this to happen or will they be successful in outlawing research that involves human blastocysts?

Furthermore, a safer virus needs to be found to deliver the genes to the skin cell. “In both experiments, the four-gene recipe was added to the skin cells using a virus as the delivery package. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) would never allow us to use these virus-modified cells in patients”, added Lanza.

Reprogramming the skin cells makes them likely to produce cancers, just like embryonic stem cells.

A back door to human cloning may turn off certain supporters of this research. Dr. Yamanaka confirmed that the reprogramming technique could allow for the creation of egg cells as well as sperm cells from the same person, male or female.

Finally, it is clear that it would be foolish to declare “Mission Accomplished” at this point in time. We just don’t know yet whether or not “embryo-like" cells are as good as the real thing. Let us hope that scientists are allowed to find out.

Rayilyn Brown
Board Member AZNPF
Arizona Chapter National Parkinson's Foundation
rbrown@aznpf.org

Monday, December 3, 2007

Can Adult Skin Cells Really Become Embryonic?

Hans Keirstead of UC Irvine, who works with human embyronic stem cells, said, “This breakthrough creates a new source of stem cells that will come from adults. That’s very positive. But the more important thing is the technique used to do it. Scientists will be able to use the technique to create new cellular models of disease — everything from Huntington’s disease to spinal atrophy. We can try to develop treatments with those models.

“But the cells produced with this new technique aren’t exactly human embryonic stem cells. They’re embyronic-like. We don’t know exactly how close they are to the real thing. But we know they’re not the same. And we know that these stem cells can lead to a higher incidence of cancer in research mice. So the cells are not ideal.

“We definitely should not stop the work we’re already doing on lines of human embyronic stem cells.” http://sciencedude.freedomblogging.com/

Sidney Golub chairs the Human Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee at the University of California , Irvine . In addition to alleviating concerns over embryonic stem cells, the new techniques may reduce the need to carry out somatic cell nuclear transfer, a controversial technique that uses harvested eggs to clone cells, he said. Such a procedure is used to create animal clones, such as Dolly the sheep, and is being explored as a way to create human stem cell lines. "This approach, if generally applicable, may be a good alternative to somatic cell nuclear transfer," he said. "If it turns out to be a good alternative, obtaining donated human oocytes [eggs] may be less important for research progress."

Saturday, December 1, 2007

State Stem Cell Funding Facts

Compiled by Don C. Reed www.stemcellbattles.com

1. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)’s $3,000,000,000 over ten years is the largest source of embryonic stem cell research funding in the world. By early spring of 2008, the CIRM will have dedicated approximately $450 million to training, infrastructure, facilities and embryonic stem cell grants. In a small way, California was also the first state to fund embryonic stem cell research, through the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999.

2. Connecticut: SB 934, supported by Gov. M. Jody Rell, provides $10 million a year for ESCR ten years.

3. Indiana has about $50,000 invested in adult stem cell research at Indiana University, appears to want to become an adult stem cell research center.

4. Illinois: Gov. Rod Blagojevich has directed $20 million to the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute thus far.

5. Iowa: PENDING: Governor Chet Culver has proposed a $12.5 million Institute for Regenerative Medicine at University of Iowa.

6. Maryland: the Maryland Stem Cell Research Act of 2006 has appropriated $15 million for funding of (mixed adult and embryonic) stem cell research, of which $9 million has been distributed. (Including carryovers, state may have a total $23 million in 2008—unclear.)

7. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts was given one million in state money to set up a stem cell institute. Additionally, a life sciences center was set up with an additional ten million funding, from which an undetermined amount of stem cell research funding may derive. PENDING is a bill for $1,000,000,000 (one billion) over ten years: Governor Deval Patrick’s bill appears to be primarily for infrastructure, education, tax breaks to encourage the biomedical industry, gap funding (supplemental funds for researchers when federal money is promised, but slow to arrive) rather than pure research grants.

8. New Jersey: blessings on Governor Corzine’s legislation authorizing $270 million in facilities grants, and an additional $10 million for stem cell research.

9. New Mexico: Governor Bill Richards proposes to spend roughly $6 million in 2008, blend of facilities ($3.8 million) and research grants ($2.2 million).

10. New York: Governor Elliott Spitzer has authorized $600 million over ten years.

11. Ohio: has spent $19.4 million on adult stem cell research. State has ability to fund Bush-approved ESCR lines, and last year dedicated $8 million additional funding to the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

12. Texas: an unknown quantity. The $3 billion Lance Armstrong-led Cancer Act does not specifically prohibit embryonic stem cell research, and may in time contribute; however, current leadership promises there will be no such research funded. On the adult stem cell front, it is my understanding that $41.1 million is allocated for research at the University of Texas.

13. Washington: Life Sciences Discovery Fund ($350 million tobacco settlement) has no specific stem cell set-asides, but in theory could be used for stem cell research.

14. Wisconsin: Governor Doyle established a $750 million investment fund, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, a mix of public and private funds, some of which will be used to build a research facility. Note: Governor Doyle also has a special one million dollar incentive plus other helps for companies who start up embryonic stem cell efforts.

OF STEM CELL ADVANCES, FOUNTAINS OF YOUTH, AND SUICIDAL RABBITS

Induced Pluripotent Stem (IPS) stem cells, or “reprogramming”, is supposedly so wonderful that embryonic stem cell research is no longer even necessary!

What is IPS?

Basically, 4 genes are placed inside a skin cell. According to two studies, one by Shinya Yamanaka and the other by Jamie Thomson, the skin cell is manipulated backward in the developmental cycle until it becomes young again, embryonic-like, a sort of cellular fountain of youth.

Is it embryonic-like, or Embryonic-lite?

IPS cells could be an exciting new tool for the cause of cure—or maybe not.

Read more by clicking here..