NRL News

Innovators encourage Kansas to be involved in adult stem cell research

by | Mar 8, 2012

By Kathy Ostrowski, Legislative Director, Kansans for Life

(from left) Drs. Omar Aljitawi, Richard Burt, Dana Winegarner, David Prentice with Kansas State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook and Kansas State Rep. Brenda Landwehr

The Kansas House Health & Human Services committee was warned on Monday that their state is ‘missing-in-action’ when it comes to life-saving and life-changing adult stem cell medicine.

Because of that concern, committee chair, Rep. Brenda Landwehr (R-Wichita), and fellow pro-lifer, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) scheduled this presentation by international adult-stem cell advocate and cell-biologist, David Prentice, Ph.D., along with a trio of noted physician/ researchers:

·         Richard Burt, M.D., from Northwestern University Hospital in Illinois– a leading researcher in stem-cell immunotherapy;

·         Omar Aljitawi, M.D., assistant professor at the Blood & Marrow transplant center at Kansas University’s Medical Center; and

·         Dana Winegarner, D.O., a neurologist from the MidAmerica Neuroscience center in the Kansas City area.

The speakers’ united message was that both the public and physicians remain unaware that adult stem cells are already being used clinically to treat many diseases in human patients around the world.

Dr. Prentice gave an overview of innovative stem cell applications, including the “spray gun” that allows a burn victim’s own cells to be altered and then sprayed over the damaged area for skin regeneration.

(You can see the technique at

Dr. Prentice reminded the committee that a 2010 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that adult stem cell transplants have become “the standard of care for many patients” with blood disorders and malignancies, and such transplants are starting to be used for other conditions including autoimmune disorders and heart disease.

Dr. Burt is involved in what he calls a “paradigm shift” in treating Scheroderma, Lupus, Crohn’s, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis. He is training practitioners in other countries how to use his inventive stem cell treatment.

Under Dr. Burt’s treatment protocol, patients who otherwise were subject to a lifetime of drugs with limited results, are quickly, and it seems permanently, cured–although Dr. Burt hesitates to use the term. Dr. Burt’s protocol involves a “once-only” injection of the patient’s own stem cells, after the cells are reprogrammed or “conditioned.” 

However, use of a patient’s own cells doesn’t work for all diseases. For example, sickle cell disease requires a donation of stem cells from another person, whether from bone marrow or blood from umbilical-cords (which are routinely discarded after birth).

Dr. Aljitawi noted that all kinds of blood and tissue donations are desperately needed but programs to secure them, and education to attract potential donors, are lacking. Dr. Aljitawi is working with the Kansas-discovered “Whartons Jelly” (the solid part of the umbilical cord), as well as developing techniques to expand the number of the stem cells usable from a single umbilical cord. 

Dr. Winegarner provided the hard facts on costs incurred by over 27,000 Kansans suffering from Parkinson’s, MS, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), stroke, and coronary disease. As just one example, Winegarner pointed out there are currently 23 studies employing adult stem cell therapies for MS, 10 of them are still enrolling patients, with three of those taking place in the U.S.– but nothing in Kansas.

A lack of clinical trials restricts economic growth in medical innovation, according to Dr. Winegarner. Even worse, it drives patients to engage in internet-advertised quack treatments and to waste money on “stem cell tourism”–traveling abroad for pricey treatments without safety, scientific regulation, patient follow up, or practitioner accountability.

Thus, it behooves Kansas to get involved with patient trials! Several low-cost suggestions were also made to the committee to help the state move forward, including:

·         a Stem Cell Day providing public information and encouraging donor sign up;

·         a state website clearinghouse with info on new treatments and bona fide opportunities;

·         a legislative resolution to provide medical education courses about stem cell treatments.

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Categories: Adult Stem Cells