US company offers storage of stem cells from menstral blood


US company Cryo-Cell has launched a bank designed for women who want to store their own stem cells, taken from the menstrual blood, as a future health insurance.

Stem cells can be obtained from numerous sources, including the blood, bone marrow and embryos. And a number of private companies, including Richard Branson’s Virgin Health Bank, already offer umbilical cord blood banking for about £1,500.

Cryo-Cell charges a sum of $499 (£238) for processing and a year’s storage of menstrual stem cells.

The woman is sent a collection kit in the post, comprising a cup, collection tubes and a prepaid return shipment to Cryo-Cell.

Menstrual stem cells – which form in the womb lining whichis then shed during a woman’s period – have the advantage of being easily harvested in a painless, non-invasive manner as compared to some other stem cell sources such as bone marrow.

And like other stem cells, early lab work suggests they too have the potential to turn into many other types of cell, including heart, nerve, bone, cartilage and fat, the company claims.

Spokesman for the company, stem cell expert Dr Stephen Noga, director of the Cellular Therapeutics Program, at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, said: “Even one menstrual cycle has the potential to produce millions of stem cells.

“Current research is very preliminary, but given their properties, we believe these menstrual stem cells demonstrate compelling promise to transform regenerative medicine in the coming years.”

Cryo-Cell says on its website that “realistically, it may take several years for these menstrual stem cells to be developed into potential widely-available commercial therapies”.

Stem cells from dead embryos used to create living tissue

Newcastle: UK scientists have found a way of making living tissue from the cells of dead embryos.

The experiment was carried out at Newcastle University’s Centre for Stem Cell Biology last year and may hold the solution to the ethical dilemma of using embryos created soley stem cell extraction. The embryos used in the experiment died naturally during IVF procedures.

The technique increases the possibility that stem cells can soon be used for the treatment of debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Professor Miodrag Stojkovic, the researcher who carried out the experiments said: “This should get round opposition to stem cell science because live embryos will no longer need to be used in all experiments.”

Stem cells extracted from embryos are prized by scientists because they are capable of turning into any cell or tissue type in the body. Ultimately they could be used as treatments for heart disease and diabetes and other diseases, researchers argue.

But the technology involves creating and destroying living embryos to extract stem cells. Usually these embryos are made at fertility clinics when couples go for in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

However, Stojkovic’s work suggests it may be possible to avoid using live embryos; instead, scientists use those that have died naturally during IVF. It would also mean that many more embryos were available for research and eventual treatment of the diseases, speeding up advancements in the cutting-edge science.

Stojkovic’s experiments were carried out while he was working at the Centre for Stem Cell Biology at Newcastle last year. In a paper, published last week online on the website of the journal Stem Cells, Stojkovic reveals he and his colleagues took 13 embryos, created by IVF. All 13 had stopped developing a few days after conception. ‘They were in a very early stage of development,’ said Stojkovic, now head of Sintocell, the Serbian medical research centre.

The team then waited 24 hours to check that the embryos were no longer dividing before beginning their experiments. ‘These were all deemed to be arrested embryos,’ said Stojkovic. ‘In other words, they were dead. [But] they had the capacity to develop any different type of cell you could think of, including kidney cells, liver cells, and skin cells.’

‘I think this is a very important development, although stem cells created this way should not be seen as an alternative to those made from live embryos. They should be seen as an additional source.’

Last night right-to-life campaigners called for caution. ‘In theory if an embryo is obtained ethically and a stem cell can be derived after that embryo has died naturally, then that will remove all ethical objections as there is no destruction of a living organism,’ said Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, a Catholic campaign group. ‘We do not have objections to the use of donated tissue and organs in other areas of medicine.’

But Quintavalle warned that the case for the use of dead embryo cells had not been proved. ‘There is the critical question of how you know when an embryo is dead or not.’

George Daley, of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, said the paper’s approach raised scientific concerns. ‘If there was something wrong with the embryo that made it arrest, isn’t there something wrong with these cells? We don’t know.’

However, Stojkovic’s work was given strong backing by Donald Landry, at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, who called the work an important addition to the field. ‘Regardless of how you feel about personhood for embryos, if the embryo is dead, then the issue of personhood is resolved,’ Landry said.

‘This then reduces the ethics of human embryonic stem cell generation to the ethics of, say, organ donation. So now you’re really saying, “Can we take live cells from dead embryos the way we take live organs from dead patients?”‘

What they do

· Embryonic stem cells have the ability to develop into any type of cell in the human body, from brain cells to skin and kidney cells.

· By creating cloned embryos of patients, it might one day be possible to grow their stem cells in the laboratory, say scientists. These could use then be used as transplants.

· Diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – in which particular organs or pieces of tissue have been destroyed – are thought to be the best candidates for treatments

Regulatory Bodies

Human Genetics Commission – The UK Government’s advisory body on new developments in human genetics and how they impact on individual lives. Gives the Government advice on human genetics with a particular focus on the social, ethical and legal issues. One of its key roles is to promote debate and to listen to what the public and our stakeholders have to say.

The Commission is chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and is made up of twenty-four members including experts in genetics, ethics, law and consumer affairs. It also has a Consultative Panel of people who have direct experience of living with genetic disorders and who act as a sounding board for reports and recommendations. Human Genetics Commission

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is the UK’s independent regulator overseeing safe and appropriate practice in fertility treatment and embryo research.

It licences and monitors centres carrying out IVF, donor insemination and human embryo research. We provide a range of detailed information for patients, professionals and Government. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

GeneWatch UK is a not-for-profit group that monitors developments in genetic technologies from a public interest, environmental protection and animal welfare perspective. GeneWatch believes people should have a voice in whether or how these technologies are used and campaigns for safeguards for people, animals and the environment. It works on all aspects of genetic technologies – from GM crops and foods to genetic testing of humans. GeneWatchUK

The BioIndustry Association , the trade association for innovative enterprises in the UK’s bioscience sector. As the voice of UK bioscience, it is active in representing the sector and its needs to audiences, from patient groups to regional, national and pan-European governments. The BioIndustry Association

World’s largest anti-ageing body condemns use of embryonic stem cells for rejuvenation

Embryonic stem cells should be used to treat life-threatening diseases not to cure wrinkles and turn back the hands of time, says the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, world’s largest medical body, representing 300,000 doctors and other professionals.

In a position statement following recent negative publicity on the use of stem cells in aesthetics it comments:

“Science now stands on the threshold of a new age in cellular therapy and tissue regeneration which will directly and beneficially impact how long, and how well, we will live in the coming decades.

Stem cell therapeutics is the leading biomedical technology in the rapidly emerging field of regenerative medicine, a medical field in which science assists the human capacity to heal various tissues and organs. All of the most impressive demonstrations of regenerative medicine, since its inception in 2002, have used stem cells to trigger healing and rejuvenation in the patient.

In the anti-aging setting, the most important potential application of human stem cells is the generation of cells and tissues that could be used for cell-based therapies. Today, donated organs and tissues are often used to replace ailing or destroyed tissue, but the need for transplantable tissues and organs far outweighs the available supply.

Stem cells, directed to differentiate into specific cell types, offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, if scientists can harness the ability of stem cells to become specialized into any type of cell, they may be able to use them to treat any number of diseases and conditions.

The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M; and its 18,500 members from 86 countries worldwide support innovative research into new therapies to treat aging-related disorders and infirmities associated with aging metabolism. The A4M, however, does not support the use of embryonic stem cells that are derived from aborted fetuses. This is clearly an ethical dilemma with which we take exception, except under extreme life-and-death medical situations supported by IRB oversight. Instead, the A4M is particularly hopeful for the expansion of the utility of adult and non-embryonic (placental- and umbilical cord- derived) stem cells (which are harvested from healthy, full-term, live births). These types of stem cells hold much promise as safe, simple, and easily acquired sources of pluriopotent cells for the restoration, reseeding, and regeneration of multiple organ and tissue failure. They also clearly obviate the problems and ethical concerns regarding therapeutics utilizing embryonic stem cells.

Stem cell treatment has now become one of the newest trends in aesthetic medicine. Due to their vast healing and rejuvenating potential, stem cells have become big business for beauty doctors. Some are claiming that stem cells can diminish wrinkles or otherwise reverse the outward signs of aging. The A4M submits that this is a highly experimental application of stem cell therapeutics. A4M does not support the use of stem cells for anything other than life-saving procedures, conducted in strict adherence to IRB protocols.

With a solid history of more than 30 years of research and clinical application, stem cell therapeutics have been successfully utilized around the world to treat a wide range of aging-related disorders and other infirmities associated with aging metabolism. It is the position of the A4M that knowledge as to the life-saving potential of stem cell therapeutics in diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, obesity, arthritis, and Parkinson’s Disease should be embraced and expanded. The A4M considers adult and other non-embryonic stem cell sources as a safe and promising new therapeutic approach that is associated with less risk than blood transfusions, and is not associated with ethical issues because no live-births or fetuses are put at-risk.”

About the American Academy of Anti-Ageing Medicine

The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, Inc. (“A4M”) is a non-profit medical society dedicated to the advancement of technology to detect, prevent, and treat aging related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimize the human aging process. A4M is also dedicated to educating physicians, scientists, and members of the public on biomedical sciences, breaking technologies, and anti-aging issues. A4M believes that the disabilities associated with normal aging are caused by physiological dysfunction which in many cases are ameliorable to medical treatment, such that the human lifespan can be increased, and the quality of one’s life enhanced as one grows chronologically older. A4M seeks to disseminate information concerning innovative science and research as well as treatment modalities designed to prolong the human lifespan. Anti-Aging Medicine is based on the scientific principles of responsible medical care consistent with those of other healthcare specialties. Although A4M seeks to disseminate information on many types of medical treatments, it does not promote or endorse any specific treatment nor does it sell or endorse any commercial product.

Human embryos cloned to create stem cells

Human embryos have been cloned to create stem cells, in a scientific breakthrough that has opened the door to revolutionary treatment of spinal cord injuries and a wide range of incurable diseases.

In a breakthrough by Korean researchers, skin cells were taken from people with spinal injuries or genetic disorders and used in a cloning process to extract embryonic stem cells for future therapy.

The scientists yesterday revealed they had succeeded in creating 31 cloned human embryos, and cultivated 11 embryonic stem cell “lines”. The cell lines are cultures of “master” cells that can go on to become any type of cell in the body.

This may lead to treatments where stem cells are grown outside the body and then re-introduced without triggering an attack by the body’s immune system.

All the donated cells used to make the cloned embryos were from volunteers with spinal cord injuries, Type 1 diabetes or a genetic immune system disorder called hypogammaglobulinaemia.

The confirmation that it is possible to create embryonic stem cells that are a genetic match for an adult human also opens up the possibility that stem cells could be grown in a laboratory and then reinserted into a patient to repair or replace damaged organs.

As the DNA in the replicated cells would be identical to the patient’s, there should be no danger of the injected cells being attacked by the body’s own immune system.

The latest Korean research — published yesterday in the journal Science — came as British researchers announced they had also succeeded in producing a cloned human embryo, using the same technique of injecting genetic material from a donor cell into a human egg cell that had had its own genetic nucleus removed.
Unlike the Koreans, the British scientists have yet to extract any stem cells.

Australia currently bans this “nuclear transfer” procedure altogether, and the US has withdrawn government funding for it.

Britain and Korea allow it, but only for “therapeutic” reasons where the resulting “blastocyst” – a young embryo of about 100 cells – is used for medical research or treatment.

Many countries, including Britain, have banned so-called “reproductive cloning” that would result in a cloned baby, and many scientists worldwide – including those behind the Korean and British results – oppose its use for this purpose.