Researchers in Italy have successfully treated dozens of patients, who were blinded as a result of chemical burns, with their own stem cells. The list of potential uses for adult stem cells keeps rising while embryonic stem cells haven’t really hit the mark.
The treatment worked completely in 82 of 107 eyes and partially in 14 others, with benefits lasting up to a decade so far. One man whose eyes were severely damaged more than 60 years ago now has near-normal vision.
In the study, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers took a small number of stem cells from a patient’s healthy eye, multiplied them in the lab and placed them into the burned eye, where they were able to grow new corneal tissue to replace what had been damaged. Since the stem cells are from their own bodies, the patients do not need to take anti-rejection drugs.
This is another advantage of adult stem cells. The body recognizes the cell already so rejection is not a major factor, unlike embryonic stem cells.
Adult stem cells, which are found around the body, are different from embryonic stem cells, which come from human embryos and have stirred ethical concerns because removing the cells requires destroying the embryos.
Pro-lifers are not against science. As time goes on and more research becomes available adult stem cells will be the difference maker in healing, not embryonic stem cells. Plus they are ethically sound! Win Win!