Unfortunately, there certainly is still a great deal of misinformation in the media today. While spinal cord injury stem cell treatments are going on successfully today, articles like the following are confusing.
Some people regain sensitivity in their extremities, some gain bladder and bowel control and some are capable of walking with a walker. The limits of improvement are yet to be seen, but this is definitely NOT even close to the first.
THIS ARTICLE STATES: “The cells, acquired from donated fetal brain tissue…”
THE FACT IS: While these are not embryonic stem cells (a fetus starts at 7 weeks so they are technically ‘adult’ or non-embryonic stem cells), the back lash from the religious right on the use of fetal brain tissue, donated or not, is going to be extreme. There should be no risk of cysts and tumors as these cells are already differentiated but let’s wait and see.
THE ARTICLE STATES: “The patients also received a temporary course of immunosuppressive drugs to limit rejection of the cells.”
THE FACT IS: Donated (or allogenic) stem cells carry the risk of graft versus-host disease (GVHD) or rejection so the immune system must be suppressed. When you are dealing with illness or in this case, spinal cord injury, lowering the immune system with immunosuppressive drugs carries inherent risks.
I will take a position of cautious optimism and wait and see the results. So the only question remaining to be asked is: Autologous (from the aprient) stem cells carry none of these risks. Why were they not used?