Saturday, May 23, 2009

Embryonic vs. Adult Stem Cells Research

by Dr Centeno

We’ve all heard about embryonic stem cells (ESC’s).  They have been in the news and the focus of controversy for a decade.  We’ve seen far less media coverage of  adult stem cells.  Adult stem cells (ASC’s) are found in everyone’s body and they are capable of repairing a host of tissues.  In fact, the research on adult cell lines has surpassed embryonic.

My search begins at the National Library of Medicine, looking at all embryonic stem cell published papers vs. the total on all adult stem cell lines. For every one ESC paper, there were at least two ASC papers.

asc vs esc chart

In addition, the research on ASC’s is vastly more mature, focusing on animal models of tissue healing, dosing, early human cases, medication interaction with cells, possible complications, etc…  The ESC research is more test tube and review articles on what might be possible someday.  Looking in specific categories, I found the following:

  • Cartilage Repair: 230 articles on embryonic vs. 1,113 for just one adult stem cell line (mesenchymal stem cells)
  • Myocardial Infarction:  186 for embryonic stem cells vs.  341 for adult mesenchymal stem cells, 69 for endothelial progenitor cells
  • Wound Healing: 114 for embryonic stem cells vs.  330 for adult mesenchymal stem cells, 565 for adult epithelial stem cells

For a more detailed analysis, take a look at the American Stem Cell Therapy Assocition (ASCTA) white paper on adult stem cells vs. embronic stem cell research.    Summary?  Adult stem cell research is much farther ahead.  In addition, as I have posted on before, if the cells are autologous (from the same patient), they also have a much lower risk profile.  While one day embryonic cells may rule the day, for now, adult stem cells are beating the pants off ESC’s in practical research.

To delve further, the first 20 references for myocardial infarction for adult stem cells are almost all devoted to actual animal models of treatment, advanced concepts such as dosing, etc…

Almost none of the 20 references in the same search for embryonic stem cells reveal any animal testing; the focus being review articles what about might be theoretically possible.  The conclusion, adult stem cells are much farther along in their development with regard to real world treatments.

What have these actual animal and early human models shown that adult stem cells are capable of healing?

•Orthopedic tissues such as cartilage, bone, muscle, tendon, spinal disc, and ligament[1‐25]
• Heart [26‐40]
• Pancreas (Diabetes)[41‐50]
• Wound Healing[51‐61]
• Lungs[62‐70]
• Brain (stroke, brain injury, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS)[71‐94]
• Spinal Cord (Spinal Cord Injury)[95‐99]
• Liver[100‐110]
• Kidney[111‐125]


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