Via Glenn Reynolds, via Pirate's Cove, there's this story about a South Korean woman who is said to be walking again after being paralyzed for 20 years from an accident which injured her back. The cure came from umbilical cord stem cells which were injected directly into the damaged part of her spinal cord.
Key quotes from the article:
So-called "multipotent" stem cells -- those found in cord blood -- are capable of forming a limited number of specialised cell types, unlike the more versatile "undifferentiated" cells that are derived from embroyos.A question here: What else should we regard them as? Dead humans? Living non-humans?
However, these stem cells isolated from umbilical cord blood have emerged as an ethical and safe alternative to embryonic stem cells.
Clinical trials with embryonic stem cells are believed to be years away because of the risks and ethical problems involved in the production of embryos -- regarded as living humans by some people -- for scientific use.
In contrast, there is no ethical dimension when stem cells from umbilical cord blood are obtained, according to researchers.Yes, and I posted about this problem previously.
Additionally, umbilical cord blood stem cells trigger little immune response in the recipient as embryonic stem cells have a tendency to form tumors when injected into animals or human beings.
This is very good news, assuming it's replicated by other studies, and I hope it is. Can't help but think that Christopher Reeve died just a couple of years too soon -- and that he was pushing for the wrong kind of stem cell research.
Here's the comment I posted on the above Pirate's Cove link:
Actually, the research done with fetal stem cells has had pretty dismal results so far, unlike that with umbilical cord cells. Some of the research done with fetal cells (in particular, fetal cells transplanted into Parkinson's patients) had absolutely horrifying results, with some patients developing tumors that contained hair and teeth. There really is no legitimate scientific reason to kill human embryos for their stem cells. Since there are good alternatives that pose no thorny moral issues, I think our research money, federal or otherwise, would be best spent on that. I truly hope the story linked above does pan out, and that it can be replicated many times.