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Thread: Despite all the hype, the potential for these cells to cure disease will take 10 years or so to bear fruit, say scientists

  1. #1
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Despite all the hype, the potential for these cells to cure disease will take 10 years or so to bear fruit, say scientists

    Despite all the hype, the potential for these cells to cure disease will take 10 years or so to bear fruit, say scientists

    By Chang Ai-Lien and Natalie Soh

    IT HAS taken seven years and many researchers to transform embryonic stem cells into blood cells, a step towards curing diseases - in mice.

    Doing this with human cells will be harder, as they are more fragile and complex.

    This is the reality of human embryonic stem-cell research, a field which is in its infancy all over the world, said Dr George Daley, a fellow at the Whitehead Institute in Massachusetts and whose group is considered a leader in the field.

    He was giving the industry in Singapore a reality check, amid the optimism and hype surrounding the science worldwide and in Singapore.

    Dr Daley said the enormous potential of stem cells to cure diseases would start to bear fruit only in about 10 years, a point echoed by numerous other scientists at the BioMedical Asia conference at Raffles City Convention Centre.

    Said Professor Hans Wigzell, president of Sweden's Karolinska Institute: 'There's a lot of hype in stem cells.

    'We have a lot of stem-cell activity back home too, but there is a really long way to go before you have clinical applications.'

    Yet, the top scientists also acknowledged that Singapore had the right ingredients for success in this field: Strong financial backing from the state, an excellent education system, good researchers and a long-term commitment from the Government and population to support the science.

    This situation contrasts with that in the United States.

    Professor Irving Weissman, of Stanford University, explained that in America, stem-cell research has faced political and ethical objections from those who see it as an extension of abortion.

    This has led to strict limits on government funding for research.

    Said Dr Daley: 'Scientists are worried that they won't get funding, that their research institutes will be shut down, and younger people are beginning to shun the area.

    'It's a chain reaction.'

    Another potential pitfall for Singapore, said experts, was that it did not have the critical mass of researchers, despite having one of the world leaders in embryonic stem-cell research, Professor Ariff Bongso; a leader in adult stem cells, Dr Alan Colman; and one of the world's most promising companies in the field, ES Cell International.

    Still, said Dr Daley, Singapore has shown that it can attract talent.

    But it must act quickly because, although it has made a name for itself by getting embryonic stem cells to grow in the laboratory, this lead will diminish quickly as other countries learn how to produce these cells on their own over the next couple of years.

    Dr Daley voiced caution for the commercial side of the industry too, because of the long road that needs to be travelled before treatments can be realised.

    ES Cell's chief executive officer Robert Klupacs, however, begged to differ, saying his company, at least, can stay viable till the science bears fruit.

    'We cannot expect to be funded by investors for the next 10 years, so we're looking at other means of funding ourselves, such as government grants, selling products and licensing fees.

    'We've also become a lot more focused in our research and are looking mainly at cures for diabetes and Parkinson's.

    'We can't afford to do everything.'

    At the end of the day, however, one thing is for sure.

    As Sir Richard Sykes, rector of Imperial College and chairman of an international panel helping to steer Singapore's development in the biomedical sciences, put it: 'It's an area of tremendous promise and Singapore can't afford not to be involved in it.'


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Copyright @ 2002 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

    ==============================
    "Those who seek to predict the future... might first look to the past. The past is a mirror -- and those who ignore its sometimes dark reflection, are doomed to repeat it... Will it be those seeking redemption who shall decide the future... or will those driven only by greed and envy shape our destiny? Even a hundred years later, the outcome is still very much in doubt. .." Outer Limits(Heart's Desire)



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    Thanks for posting this, Max!

    This is what I went to Washington for. This is why I angered many on this website. This is what I tried to tell you. Please read this article carefully. It quotes leading pro-ES and cloning scientists. They certainly point out that political and ethical concerns could slow ES research. But that isn't the article's point, is it? Its point is that the therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells is at least ten years away. That's TEN...as in 2012! And the word "potential" does not mean if it's all bogged down by side issues. It means under the best of circumstances.

    This is not new information. It was told to the President's Council on Bioethics by the same scientists quoted in this article. Furthermore, cloning will not shorten this ten year timespan, it will make it longer by adding widespread genetic mutations to multiple problems inherant in ES medical usage. In fact, a leading pro-ES, pro-cloning member of the council (Jane Rowley) admitted that cloned ES may not have therapeutic uses "for a long time." To illustrate this likelyhood she drew a parallel with our "30 year war with cancer" against which she admits "we're still not even close."

    My point? Adult stem cells, OEGs, Schwann Cells, Cord Cells, adult progenitors, and Olfactory Mucosa are NOT ten years away from clinical uses. They're being used for clinical applications NOW! Also, they stand on the verge of being used to treat many other conditions, including SCI. I say: Cure us now with methods that can be available in the foreseeable future...that have already been safely and effectively used in humans...and that don't have a fraction of the obstacles to clinical usage that confront ESC and cloning! I say: Spend our rresearch resources on saving lives that can be saved, not by giving Science a blank check on our futures!

    The time for us to stand up is now, not after we've been cured! We need to demand that the NIH commit the majority of its resources towards improving the health of the American people ASAP, using the safest, least problematic, most readily available tools at its disposal...not safeguarding the longterm health of the Basic Research Industry. If they refuse, then we should politically demand they change their name to the National Institute of Science, and quit misleading and misusing America's sick, disabled, and dying behind a tissue of lies

    James Kelly

    [This message was edited by James Kelly on Oct 30, 2002 at 05:28 PM.]

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    James, it's never made sense to me why you don't spend your time promoting the therapies you beleive will be successful instead of trying to discredit ESC. I mean you had a chance to meet the president right, did you say anything about federal funding for adult stem cells or other therapies or did you just talk about how ESC won't work and is pointless.

    Most poloticians couldn't really give a damn about people in our situation and when they have to make tough decisions especially stuff like ESC they try to take the side that causes them the least harm, and when they see a guy like you in a wheelchair against it it makes their decision even easier.

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    Cory:

    How are you? I don't think we've met, but I'm pleased to meet you!

    Since you asked an honest question, I'll explain. I am supporting several research avenues, and I've been doing so for years.

    Why do I get involved in stem cells? Because my first hope of getting out of this chair was to somehow cure myself. I know this sounds ridiculous, and it probably is. But I could tell right off (five years ago) when I looked into Neuroscience that no one was going to be cured by mainstream medicine very quick.

    My second hope (and the more realistic one) was to find the right avenues, the right researchers, the right funding activists, and the right clinicians who were willing to work together to make the cure a reality...ASAP.

    My third hope is actually a "fall-back" position in case the first two fail...it's to hope that research in general leads to a cure.

    Regarding this last hope, this is why I've battled cloning...to keep valuable resources from being diverted to highly speculative research, whose potentials may be decades in the future, to the detriment of avenues that offer the same projected benefits more safely, more accessibly, and in the immediate future. I know my wanting out of this wheelchair without regard for future science is selfish, but what can I say? It's true. Getting out of this wheelchair and getting my body back are my primary goals. But from watching Science for the last five years, and especially through the stem cell debates, I haven't gotten the impression that getting me (or us) out of these chairs is the number one goal of Science! So when I heard the Director of the NIH was asking scientists to switch their fields to cloning and ES Research, when I read reports of adult stem cell "failures" coming from embryonic stem cell experts (which contradicts hundreds of reports by dozens of labs), when I read about the "promise" of avenues that have yet to cure a single animal of a single condition, and that avenues already successful in improving many thousands of human lives are being maligned as "hype," I realized this was a war in which truth, human suffering, and life don't matter!

    But Cory, my life matters. I've gotten to know others with SCI, and their lives matter too. I've know a lady who's been waiting for motor neuron replacment for 45 years, and her life matters very, very much! And since I don't want to needlessly sit for ten years "or so," or for you to sit, or for her to sit, or anyone else to sit who wants to walk, to run, to dance and make love, I do what I do.

    Look at the evidence, backing which avenue, cloned ES or all other science will most likely speed the availability of cures? It's simple, if you believe cloned ES are the quickest, most likely path to cures, then back it to the hilt. If you think we can be cured without cloned ES in less than ten years, I suggest you do all you can to keep crucial resources from being diverted to cloning. Because money spent on solving tumor formation, immune rejection, and genetic mutation can't also be spent on developing therapeutic uses of Schwann Cells, OEGs, Olfactory Mucosa, adult neural stem cells, bone marrow stem cells, pancreatic stem cells, adult progenitors, and everything else.

    It would be nice if we lived in an honest world where everyone played fair. But we don't. It's a world where scientists regularly stab each other in the back to grab not only their piece of the pie, but everyone else's too...and will stop at nothing to protect their future pieces.

    James Kelly

    [This message was edited by James Kelly on Oct 30, 2002 at 11:01 PM.]

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    dear james

    the reason its ten years away is because dickheads like you have fought against it for ten years,we would be a lot closer if you would crawl back in your hole.

    "If neccessity is the mother of invention,Sci cure is one mother of a neccessity".

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    Senior Member DA's Avatar
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    woblybob the same can be said about you. the reason we dont have oeg in trials in the usa is because you spend to much time fighting for esc while ignoring oeg. hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. it works both ways. which is why we need to choose 1 and push that 1.

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    MR. Kelley,

    You just posted a statement that you are supporting several research avenues and have been doing so for years. Could you please give some detail as to what you are doing in support of the other avenues of research ? I agree, research for sci cure doesn't need to be held back with all the red tape surrounding embryonic stem cells, but I don't think research in other areas such as OEG or whatever else is being hurt at this time over the esc debates. I would like to just put that behind us, and keep moving forward for example with what Migragen and Steven Strittmatter are doing. It seems really hard to decide which pony to ride in this cure debate, so who are you saddled up with and what does the timeline look like ?

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    Senior Member Jeff's Avatar
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    DA

    It would be a mistake to choose just one therapy to back. What if it failed? What about the combinations we desparately need? Only by testing many therapies individually will we find out what works the best and which should be combined.

    Let's all work hard to get the CR Paralysis Bill passed. That $300 million would really help us to get to the point where we can begin using different therapies in combination.

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~

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    DA and Jack:

    It's coincidental that you both chose to use horse analogies in speaking of research. Harvard's Evan Snyder had this to say about stem cells yesterday:

    "We can't bet on the whole stable. We need to pick a few horses and ride with them."

    But Jeff is certainly right, we don't want to restrict ourselves to only one or two avenues that might fail, although their results so far are promising (to say the least). For myelination I'd develop OEGs, Neural Stem Cells, Schwann Cells, and Bone Marrow Stem Cells. For neuron replacement, Neural Stem Cells and BMSC. For axon growth (using cell-based therapies), OEGs and Olfactory Mucosa.

    These avenues don't touch on the wealth of non-cell-based research such as work involving rho receptors, Integrins, c-amp, chondroitase abc, Inosine, nogo receptors...the list goes on. My point in choosing it is each method uses autologous tissue either already in medical use, or being clinically tested for SCI applications, or very close.

    If we only had one or two very iffy alternatives to cloned ES, then I would agree we should travel that path. But this isn't the case. In my opinion we have several excellent avenues that can take us where we want to go regarding cell-based therapies more quickly, more safely, and with much less hassle than cloning or ES. So like DA and Dr. Snyder suggest, I believe we should focus on the most direct paths to our cure.

    [This message was edited by James Kelly on Oct 31, 2002 at 01:19 PM.]

  10. #10
    Senior Member DA's Avatar
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    jeff i was thinking 1 therapy in each class. for example in the cell transplant class we should pick oeg.


    why just 1? it gives us focus and power. we are too small to spread our limited power. besides focusing on 1 will give a stronger incentive to others to work harder and faster and to take the lead and our support.

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