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June 7, 2005

Stem Cells from Fetuses Aborted In Russia Used to Treat Heart Disease

Topics: Medicine

Medical companies, funded by financial opportunists, are using stem cells from aborted fetuses to treat heart disease according to a presentation at the Annual Meeting of the International Society of Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery. In a session titled "Late Breaking News", two investigators revealed that during the past 90 days they have injected fetal liver cells from 8-12 week old aborted children into the hearts of patients at a clinic in Ecuador, a country that is 95% Catholic.

The conference presentation, "Human Fetal Stem Cell Therapy for Dilated Cardiomyopathy", was authored by Dr. Valavanur A. Subramanian, Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Lenox Hill Hospital, and Federico Benetti of Rosario, Brazil. Subramanian is on the Board of Directors of ISMICS and, according to a source who attended the conference, has claimed leadership in the program.

The research was sponsored by The Institute for Regenerate Medicine, Villa Nova, St. Johns, Barbados.  According to the Financial Times, the company was recently founded after Ukrainian stem cell researchers teamed up with American investors and "the Caribbean tourist trade". Apparently, the Ukrainians provide the treatment protocols and stem cells from aborted children while the Americans contribute the funding.

Business Week reports that the Institute's CEO and founder, Barnett Suskind, started his company in Barbados because he feared the "political storm" surrounding stem cells in the U.S.

"The government here [in Barbados] has welcomed us," Suskind says. "We can conduct our work with their blessing." Although fetal cells are technically different from embryonic stem cells, "most people use the terms interchangeably, and that could present problems," he points out.

Given the treatment cost of $25,000 per patient, Suskind apparently has another motivation for operating abroad where his company is able to circumvent the safety and effectiveness requirements of the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Internal Review Board (IRB) approval that is necessary for research in the United States.

However, pro-life leaders state that the fundamental (and obvious) problem with Subramanian and Suskind's research is that the use of the bodies of abortion victims is immoral. Unfortunately, the Institute for Regenerate Medicine bases its therapy and profit upon the abortion industry and the company's medical researchers have become abortion's willing accomplices.

Shane Wikfors, Executive Director of Arizona Right to Life comments,

"Resorting to human experimentation through use of fetal tissue is akin to what happened in the Nazi death camps."  He added that the use of fetal tissue "would further take our society down the slippery slope in which humans are treated as utility instead of unique creations of God."

The Institute for Regenerate Medicine is not the only Central American Clinic that thrives on Russian abortions and traces its roots to the Institute for Problems of Cryobiology and Cryomedicine in Kharkov, Ukraine, directed by Dr. Valentin Grischenko. In the early 1990s, a group of Ukrainian researchers started a Kiev company called EmCell, charging $25,000 per treatment. In the late 1990's, Malibu psychiatrist William Rader founded a company named Medra to offer similar fetal cell treatments for $30,000.

However, not only are abortions wrong in the first place, not to mention the selling of the body of the unborn child for "body parts," but all adults have stem cells in their body that can act like embryonic stem cells when given an appropriate stimulus.

When VEGF is given, the bone marrow is stimulated to release stem cells, which grow new coronary arteries and also replenish damaged or dead cardiomyocytes. Transplanting autologous bone marrow stem cells into coronary arteries reduced infarct size, improved the prognosis following an acute MI and in patients with chronic congestive heart failure. Since patients are the source of their own stem cells, there would be a ready supply, with no rejection or immunological issues, and political debate on stem cell research would end. It is worth noting that statin therapy stimulates mobilization of EPCs, which repair damaged or dead myocardial cells and stimulate growth of new coronary arteries.

So let's urge our governments and scientists to pursue the technology to transform autologous bone marrow stem cells as the source of a patient's own stem cells - and get shady clinics such as these shut down. If we shut off the end-users of the body part mechants of death, we come closer to stopping abortion in the first place.

Suggested readings:
The role of stem cells in cardiac regeneration.

Human amniotic mesenchymal cells have some characteristics of cardiomyocytes.

Hat tip - ProLifeBlogs

Posted by Hyscience at June 7, 2005 2:28 PM

I work for a company that is now using adult stem cells harvested from less than 1 pint of the patient’s blood to treat heart disease. I would like to point out that, at least in the case of heart disease, fetal stem cells are not needed nor are embryonic stem cells for that matter. We are already demonstrating this fact by successfully treating heart disease patients with their own stem cells. However, we are finding it exceedingly difficult to get the word out, especially in The United States.

Calvin Miller, the patient BusinessWeek Magazine featured this week in its story Biotech, Finally, was actually our first private patient. He neither was a clinical trial patient of Dr. Patel’s nor was he treated with adult stem cells harvested from his own bone marrow.

Calvin was treated in Thailand with adult stem cells that were harvested from his own blood, expanded in our laboratory in Israel and then implanted via catheter into his occluded coronary artery (in Thailand). This is a proprietary process/cellular product named VesCell (TM).

While it is important to fight against the use of fetal and embryonic stem cells, it is also equally important to offer those suffering from debilitating diseases a viable alternative to their use. We are one of those alternatives.

Jay D. Lenner Jr.
TheraVitae, Ltd.

Posted by: jdlenner at June 10, 2005 3:27 AM

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