Thursday, June 09, 2005
Well now, it seems that everyone is starting to turn to this research ... with just some pocket change and a heaping helping of gumption:
- The poorly funded Griffith University team – which conducted its research with a mere $200,000 in grants – appears to have found a direct and non-controversial alternative to the use of stem cells derived from leftover embryos created during fertility treatment, reported the Australian newspaper.
"Our experiments have shown adult stem cells isolated from the olfactory mucosa have the ability to develop into many different cell types if they are given the right chemical or cellular environment," research team leader Alan Mackay-Sim told the paper.
- The breakthrough, first announced two months ago, has been largely ignored by the U.S. media, which has focused on embryonic stem cell research as the only option to cure debilitating ailments like Hodgkin's, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
As a result of the lopsided press coverage, California voters passed a $6 billion referendum to fund embryonic stem cell research last November, with similar programs proposed around the U.S. - though embryonic stem cell research has yet to show any significant medical progress.
Unlike embryonic stem cells, which reportedly can trigger tumors in one in five cases at the point of injection, adult stem cells grow in a controlled fashion and don't revert to their original tissue form.
Another significant benefit: Because adult stem cells can be harvested from the patient, there's no risk of the body rejecting them as alien, eliminating the need for immune system-suppressing drugs.
Still, two months after Australia's adult stem cell breakthrough was first announced, it has played little or no role in the ongoing U.S. debate over government funding for embryonic stem cell research.