General Question

troubleinharlem's avatar

Scientists/Doctors started treating the first patient with stem cells; people of other religions, how do you feel about this?

Asked by troubleinharlem (7978points) October 12th, 2010

First Patient Treated in Geron Stem-Cell Trial.

Personally, I think this is neat. Instead of throwing them away, they are using them to see if they could be of some good… what is the matter with that?

I’m curious about other religions and other beliefs concerning this. I know my own, but I’m curious about others. Do you think this is a good idea?

Here are some of the comments from the comment section:

*“There is a simple way to stop this. The original parents who donated the embryos can elect not to have them used for research.”

* “I’m about as pro-life as anyone can possibly be. But the practical side of me realizes that if a human embryo becomes available to medical science due to an accident, an abortion, or due to any other unfortunate occurrence, then it would be an absolute tragedy for that embryo to be discarded if there is even the smallest possibility that its cells might do a sick or injured living human being some good.

* “We donate our hearts, eyes, kidneys, livers, lungs and skin to medical science in order to preserve human life. Even when there is a shortage of these banked organs, society does not go around harvesting parts from living people to fill the void. Why the outcry over harvesting embryonic stem cells, as long as embryos are not being bred by scientists specifically for harvesting?”

* “I’ve never prayed for a medical FAILURE before, but here’s the first! I pray that the doctors who perform(ed) this procedure did a perfect job and that that patient does NOT do well at all, that the doctor(s) get sued and lose, and that the patient is worse off than he started… Here’s why: These people are living off the b.loo.d of the in.nocent. God, forgive us, and have mercy on us! P.sal.m 139:14.

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30 Answers

Seek's avatar

^ Anyone want to explain the vomiting punctuation in that last comment?

janbb's avatar

I’m Jewish agnostic and I say: Yippee! Let’s do it!

cockswain's avatar

It would be foolish not to.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr : I think that maybe writing out biblical or sexual terms is banned on the Fox News site, so they had to “censor” it.

tedd's avatar

Well they’re not even getting them from aborted feti anymore, so I’m not sure what the argument against it would be.

Trillian's avatar

Let’s find a way to regenerate damaged nerves and burned tissue!

Iclamae's avatar

@tedd I spoke to my professor about stem cell treatment a couple of weeks ago. He said they can’t use aborted feti because of the damage they undergo. So when we hear about the use of embryonic stem cells, it’s pretty much just coming from the leftover feti from in vitro fertilization. Unless someone’s trying something new… but I don’t think any newmethods of collection are being approved.

I don’t have a strict religious belief and support the use of these otherwise unwanted feti.

Is the plural feti?

phaedryx's avatar

As I understand it, they’ve found that taking a patient’s stem cells, growing them, and using them to treat that same patient has the best results. I don’t see how that would create an ethical/religious dilemma.

Loried2008's avatar

I don’t have a problem with Stem Cell Research. I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal, most of the time they’re just going to be discarded anyway.

Iclamae's avatar

@phaedryx It really depends on the disease and what exactly needs to be regrown. Sometimes you really need the Embryonic Stem Cells instead of the Adult Stem Cells for treatment. The Embryonic Stem Cells are the ones everyone’s in a fuss about. They need to be collected from embryos and right now, when scientists are allowed to, they collect from the unwanted extra fetuses produced during in vitro fertilization.

They make like 10 or so fetuses and implant however many are necessary to get someone pregnant. There are usually leftover that are frozen and the parents write off what happens to them. I should specify that since these fetuses are being implanted into the womb and may or may not stick, they are still very tiny clumps of cells, not at a visually recognizable stage of development.

tedd's avatar

@Iclamae Go to the wikipedia page, they’ve been getting them from genetically altered skin cells for the last few years. Researchers found other ways of getting the cells since they were illegal under President Bush.

I say again, they are not using stem cells from any aborted feti, and for that matter not from any left over in vitro embryo’s.

Iclamae's avatar

@tedd Ah, yes that method was a pretty big helper. But they are still getting them from IVF embryos. Obama overturned that previous legislature of Bush’s, which got a lot of scientists rearing to go on some projects. However, a judge put his two cents in on the matter recently and it’s caused a bit of confusion. So now the entire thing has to go higher and be reconsidered. In the meantime, those scientists that applied for funding renewal are getting it, I think.
This is thing I’m talking about.

I was under the impression that those genetically altered cells were still undergoing tests to make sure the cells stay changed and to observe possible side effects of the treatment?

cockswain's avatar

I read an article recently that researchers can coax skin cells into most other cell types. Not as fully versatile as stem cells, but close. I don’t have a link, so this is vague info, but in the works. Unless Christians want to argue every skin cell on every person in the world needs to be converted into a viable fetus, this should be a reasonable compromise that finally satisfies the nay-saying crazies.

Dr_C's avatar

I will make it a point to not argue on this thread and only limit myself to saying the following:
I can tell you from experience, therapies involving the use of embryonic stem cells are stuck in the past. The latest trend and most common practice is the use of adult stem cells.
While most groups are using these adult stem cells obtained from bone marrow… some groups (mine included) are using adipose derives stem cells (obtained through liposuction) and after processing peroform an analogous transplant. Giving the patient his/her own cells back.

While the morality of using embryonic stem cells is debateable based on personal views… the truth of the matter is that it’s an obsolete technique. Newer techniques do away with the moral issue of using fetuses and jsut take the cells from the patients themselves.

cockswain's avatar

@Dr_C Are the any benefits lost to not using embryonic vs adult stem cells?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think this issue is a religious one and shouldn’t be dealt with using religion/atheism.

Dr_C's avatar

@cockswain none whatsoever. We are using pluripotent stem cells with wide ranging plasticity (ability to differentiate into a wide variety of tissues).

cockswain's avatar

@Dr_C Then I must have misread the article, or it was incorrect. I was under the impression embryonic stem cells could differentiate into the most cell types of all stem cells.

A few more questions then: are all stem cells able to differentiate into all other cell types? Are some lines of stem cells more viable than others? Finally, is it equally easy to drive all stem cells lines to differentiate into whatever desired cell type?

crazyivan's avatar

@cockswain Dr_C is in a minority in the medical profession if he/she believes there are no advantages to embryonic stem cells. Certain stem cell types cannot even be cultured from adult stem cells. I am no doctor, but I’ve been following this issue for more than a decade and nothing I’ve read seems to agree with Dr_C

I’ve always been confused by religious (specifically Christian) opposition to stem-cell research. Jesus never said a word about abortion. He did say quite a bit about helping your fellow man. To refuse to help your fellow man because of an opposition to abortion (regardless of the fact that the two things are completely unrelated) seems pretty un-Christian to me.

Sorry for leaving all the other faiths out. Don’t know as much about them or their position on stem cell research.

cockswain's avatar

@crazyivan That’s what I thought too, but if he’s conducting research himself, he may know more current info than we’re reading. I’m very interested in his answer.

Dr_C's avatar

@cockswain embryonic cells do have the capacity to differentiate into a wide variety of cell types. However while most people seem to be stuck on the idea that embryonic is the most viable option, there are many many published research articles backing the use of adult stem cells over embryonic specifically due to the fact that they are able to differentiate and do away with the moral dilemma.

The advantage of one form of obtaining the cells over the other derives from ease of harvest, and cell yield. The concentration obtained from fatty tissue is far superior to that obtained form bone marrow, as well as embryonic (ranging into the millions of cells per unit volume) and do not require lab cultivation in order to reach a therapeutic threshold.

@crazyivan before you use labels like “minority” I suggest a thorough search into the use of adult stem cells and their application both within the US and over seas. There is a lot of new research out there and most of it has eschewed the use of embryonic stem cells for BMSCs (bone marrow stem cells) and AT-ASCs (adipose tissue adult stem cells) due to avainability, ease of harvest, plasticity, applicability and mitotic capabilities.

You are right in assuming that a lot of the ground work for stem cell research was based in the use of embryonic stem cells. However, as in all sciences, the research has evolved and moved past it’s roots. There’s a lot of research out there… look it up.

Dr_C's avatar

A quick addition just for @crazyivan. Here’s an excerpt form a bibliographical review, complete with bibliography at the end should you care to delve into the topic a bit more. I remind you, this is only an excerpt… but you can find more than enough reading material from the bibliography provided at the end.


Adult Stem Cells (ASCs), by definition, are unspecialized or undifferentiated cells that not only retain their ability to divide mitotically while still maintaining their undifferentiated state but also given the right conditions, have the ability to differentiate into different types of cells including cells of different germ-origin – an ability referred to as transdifferentiation or plasticity.1,2 In vitro, the conditions under which transdifferentiation occurs can be brought about by modifying the culture medium in which the cells are cultured. In vivo, the same changes are seen when the ASCs are transplanted into a tissue environment different to their own tissue-of origin. Though the exact mechanism of this transdifferentiation of ASCs is still under debate, this ability of ASCs along with their ability to self-renew is of great interest in the field of Regenerative Medicine as a therapeutic tool in being able to regenerate and replace dying, damaged or diseased tissue.

Clinically, however, there are a few criteria that ASCs need to fulfill before they can be viewed as a viable option in Regenerative Medicine. These are as follows:3

1. Abundance in numbers (millions to billions of cells)
2. Ease of harvest (through minimally invasive procedures)
3. Ability to differentiate into multiple cell types (which can be regulated and reproduced in vitro)
4. Safe to transplant to a different site of the autologous host or even an allogenic host.
5. No conflict with current Good Manufacturing Principles (during procurement, culture or transplantation)

Adipose Tissue Yields an Abundance of ASC’s

Compared to any other source, the vast amounts of adipose tissue (depots of fat for storing energy) especially in the abdominal region, by sheer volume of availability, ensure an abundance in numbers of ASCs ranging in the millions per unit volume. The sheer numbers available also has the added advantage of not needing to be cultured in a laboratory over days in order to get the desired number of ASCs to achieve what is called “therapeutic threshold” i.e. therapeutic benefit. In addition, harvesting ASCs from adipose tissue through simple, minimally invasive liposuction under local anesthesia is relatively easier, painless and poses minimal risk to the patient compared to all other possible methods.

Adipose tissue ASCs (AT-ASCs) are extremely similar to stem cells isolated from bone marrow (BMSCs). The similarities in profile between the two types of ASCs range from morphology to growth to transcriptional and cell surface phenotypes.4,5 Their similarity extends also to their developmental behavior both in vitro and in vivo. This has led to suggestions that adipose-derived stem cells are in fact a mesenchymal stem cell fraction present within adipose tissue.6

Clinically, however, stromal vascular fraction-derived AT-ASCs have the advantage over their bone marrow-derived counterparts, because of their abundance in numbers – eliminating the need for culturing over days to obtain a therapeutically viable number – and the ease of the harvest procedure itself – being less painful than the harvest of bone marrow. This, in theory, means that an autologous transplant of adipose-derived ASCs will not only work in much the same way as the successes shown using marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell transplant, but also be of minimal risk to the patient.

AT-ASCs, like BM-ASCs, are called Mesenchymal ASCs because they are both of mesodermal germ-origin. This means that AT-ASCs are able to differentiate into specialized cells of mesodermal origin such as adipocytes, fibroblasts, myocytes, osteocytes and chondrocytes.7,8,9 AT-ASCs are also able to, given the right conditions of growth factors, transdifferentiate into cells of germ-origin other than their own. Animal model and human studies have shown AT-ASCs to undergo cardiomyogenic 10, endothelial (vascular)11, pancreatic (endocrine) 12, neurogenic 13, and hepatic trans-differentiation14 , while also supporting haematopoesis15.

Low Risk to the Patient

Autologous transplant of SVF AT-ASCs also poses extremely low risk to the patient when done as a single procedure in a sterile surgical operating room setting. Furthermore, it is postulated that SVF AT-ASCs due to their immunosuppressive properties may be transplanted into not only autologous but also allogenic tissues without initiating a cytotoxic T-cell response.16 We at AdiStem believe autologous transplant to be the safest and most viable option at this point.

It is noteworthy that the protocol devised by AdiStem for the procurement of SVF AT-ASCs does not overlook the therapeutic potential conferred by the cocktail of ingredients present in the SVF. Let us look at this cocktail of cells, proteins and growth factors in a little more detail.

The extracellular matrix of adipose tissue contains different types of Collagen such as Types 1, 3–4, 7, 14–15, 18 and 27 to name a few.6 This is important in AdiStem’s Fat Transfer protocol where freshly isolated fat is used as a filler in augmentation or post-lumpectomy reconstruction of the breast and in the augmentation of the penis, and where collagen provides the structural support required for cell survival.

Furthermore, the extracellular matrix plays an important role in adipocyte endocrine secretions, and release of growth factors such as transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and fibroblast growth factor (FGF), among others all of which are contained in the SVF.17 This is consistent with the secretions of cells in the presence of an extracellular matrix. The SVF also contains the various proteins present in the adipose tissue extracellular matrix of which Laminin is of interest due to its ability to help in neural regeneration.6

The cellular composition of the SVF ranges from pre-adipocytes to endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, pericytes, fibroblasts, and AT-ASCs. Typically, the SVF also contains blood cells from the capillaries supplying the fat cells. These include erythrocytes, B and T cells, macrophages, monocytes, mast cells, natural killer (NK) cells, hematopoietic stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells, to name a few. The latter two types of cells, namely the hematopoietic stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells play important roles in supporting the viability of existing blood vessels and helping create new ones respectively.

We believe that these other ingredients that make up the SVF ‘cocktail’ act as an adjuvant to further augment the effect of the autologous transplant of SVF AT-ASCs.


1 Filip S, English D and Mokry J (2004). Issues in stem cell plasticity. J Cell Mol Med 8 (4): 572–577.

2 Filip S, Mokrý J, Hruška I (2003) Adult stem cells and their importance in cell therapy. Folia Biol.(Prague) 49: 9–14.

3 Gimble JM, Katz AJ, Bunnell BA (2007) Adipose-derived Stem Cells for Regenerative Medicine Circ Res. 100:1249–1260.

4 Katz AJ, Tholpady A, Tholpady SS, et al. (2005) Cell surface and transcriptional characterization of human adipose-derived adherent stromal (hADAS) cells. Stem Cells 23(3):412–23.

5 Pittenger MF, Martin BJ. (2004) Mesenchymal stem cells and their potential as cardiac therapeutics. Circ Res. 95(1):9–20.

6 Tholpady SS, Llull R, Ogle RC, et al. ((2006) Adipose Tissue: Stem Cells and Beyond. Clin Plastic Surg 33:55–62

7 Zuk PA, Zhu M, Mizuno H, Huang JI, Chaudhari S, Lorenz HP, Benhaim P and Hedrick MH (2001). “Mutilineage cells derived from human adipose tissue: a putative source of stem cells for tissue engineering”. Tissue Engineering 7 (2): 211–216.

8 Zuk PA, Zhu M, Ashjian P, De Ugarte DA, Huang JI, Mizuno H, Alfonso ZC, Fraser JK, Benhaim P and Hedrick MH (2002). “Human adipose tissue is a source of multipotent stem cells”. Mol Biol Cell 13: 4279–4295.

9 Mizuno H, Zuk PA, Zhu M, et al. (2002) Myogenic differentiation by human processed lipoaspirate cells. Plast Reconstr Sur 109:199–209.

10 Planat-Benard V, Menard C, Andre M, et al. (2004) Spontaneous cardiomyocyte differentiation from adipose tissue stroma cells. Circ Res 94:223–229.

11 Cao Y, Sun Z, Liao L, et al. (2005) Human adipose tissue-derived stem cells differentiate into endothelial cells in vitro and improve postnatal neovascularization in vivo. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 332:370–379.

12 Timper K, Seboek D, Eberhardt M, et al. (2006) Human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells differentiate into insulin, somatostatin, and glucagon expressing cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 341:1135–1140.

13 Safford KM, Hicok KC, Safford SD, et al. (2002) Neurogenic differentiation of murine and human adipose-derived stromal cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2002;294:371–379.

14 Seo MJ, Suh SY, Bae YC et al. (2005) Differentiation of human adipose stromal cells into hepatic lineage in vitro and in vivo. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 328:258–264.

15 Corre J, Barreau C, Cousin B, et al. (2006) Human subcutaneous adipose cells support complete differentiation but not self-renewal of hemato-poietic progenitors. J Cell Physiol 208:282–288.

16 Yanez R, Lamana ML, Garcia-Castro J, et al.(2006) Adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells have in vivo immunosuppressive properties applicable for the control of the graft-versus-host disease. Stem Cells 24:2582–2591.

17 Nakagami H, Morishita R, Maeda K, et al. (2006) Adipose Tissue-Derived Stromal Cells as a Novel Option for Regenerative Cell Therapy. J Atheroscler Thromb 13:77–81.

18 Miranville A, Heeschen C, Sengenes C, et al. (2004) Improvement of postnatal neovascularization by human adipose issue-derived stem cells. Circulation;110(3):349–55.

19 Conway EM, Collen D, Carmeliet P. (2001) Molecular mechanisms of blood vessel growth. Cardiovasc Res 49: 507–521.

20 Koveker GB. (2000) Growth factors in clinical practice. Int J Clin Pract 54: 590–593.

21 Murakami S, Takayama S, Ikezawa K, Shimabukuro Y, Kitamura M, Nozaki T, et al. (1999) Regeneration of periodontal tissues by basic fibroblast growth factor. J Periodontol Res 34: 425–430.

22 Murakami S, Takayama S, Ikezawa K, Shimabukuro Y, Kitamura M, Nozaki T. (2000) Bone growth factors. Orthop Clin North Am 31: 375–388.

23 Stefani CM, Machado MA, Sallum EA, Sallum AW, Toledo S, Nociti FH Jr. (2000) Platelet-derived growth factor/insulin-like growth factor-1 combination and bone regeneration around implants placed into extraction sockets: a histometric study in dogs. Implant Dent 9: 126–31.

24 Safford KM, Hicok KC, Safford SD, et al. (2002) Neurogenic differentiation of murine and human adipose-derived stromal cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2002;294:371–379.

25 Vuola J, Bohling T, Goransson H, Puolakkainen P. (2002) Transforming growth factor beta released from natural coral implant enhances bone growth at calvarium of mature rat. J Biomed Mater Res 59: 152–159.

26 Jiang D, Dziak R, Lynch SE, Stephan EB. (1999) Modification of an osteoconductive anorganic bovine bone mineral matrix with growth factors. J Periodontol 1999; 70: 834–839.

27 Sun Y, Zhang W, Ma F, Chen W, Hou S. (1997) Evaluation of transforming growth factor beta and bone morphogenetic protein composite on healing of bone defects. Chin Med J; 110: 927–31.

28 Whitman DH, Berry RL, Green DM. (1997) Platelet gel: an autologous alternative to fibrin glue with applications in oral and maxillofacial surgery. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 1997; 55: 1294–1299.

29 Weibrich G, Kleis WK, Hafner G, Hitzler WE. (2002) Growth factor levels in platelet-rich plasma and correlations with donor age, sex and platelet count. J Craniomaxillofac Surg; 30: 97–102.

30 Landesberg R, Roy M, Glickman RS. (2000) Quantification of growth factor levels using a simplified method of platelet-rich plasma gel preparation. J Oral Maxillofac Surg; 58: 297–300.

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36 Kakudo N, Minakata T, Mitsui T, Kushida S, Notodihardjo FZ, Kusumoto K. (2008) Proliferation-promoting effect of platelet-rich plasma on human adipose-derived stem cells and human dermal fibroblasts. Plast Reconstr Surg. Nov122(5):1352–60.

Harold's avatar

As a Christian I say fantastic, bring it on!!!!

cockswain's avatar

@Dr_C You’ve convinced me. It’s off topic, but on another thread I had a virology question maybe you can answer. I’m aware of the fact endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) serve as an indicator of human evolution from a common ancestor of chimpanzees. But I don’t know anything about how a virus can insert itself into genomic DNA. Can you answer that? If so, I’ve got another question about RNA viruses too.

Dr_C's avatar

@cockswain I’m on my way out of the office right now but if you like we can discuss this via PM later so as not to hijack the thread.

cockswain's avatar

Tell you what, I’ll ask a question about it so more people can learn and chime in. I’ll PM you when I ask.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@cockswain: Tell me, also! I’m curious about that as well.

mattbrowne's avatar

It got my full support.

rodlee's avatar

The Catholic Church is against embryonic stem-cell research because it involves the destruction of human embryos. Pope John Paul II said embryonic stem-cell research is related to abortion, euthanasia and other attacks on innocent life.

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