NRL News

Fat Stem Cells into Bone Casts Light on Advocates’ Lies

by | Jun 12, 2012

By Wesley J. Smith

Editor’s note. This is excerpted from a story on Wesley’s great blog.

Dr Shai Meretzki, chief executive of Bonus BioGroup, with the human bones grown from stem cells

The great embryonic stem cell debate has really faded, hasn’t it? I mean, when was the last time you heard the “ESCs are the ONLY HOPE for CURES! CURES! CURES!” nonsense?

I think there are several causes for the carnival folding up its tents and stealing out of town. Adult stem cell and induced pluripotent stem cell breakthroughs have forged ahead steadily, while embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) has not. Indeed, the most notable ESCR human trial (out of three) was stopped by Geron after many years of successful PR blitzing. I also suspect that once the field couldn’t be used to pound President Bush–and once it was demonstrated that Bush’s policy was not actually throttling cures–it lost much of its political salience.

Time to move on, right? Nope. Science as a field was corrupted by too many embryonic stem cell advocates too often, to just let their mendacity fade into the twilight-–remember if they did it once, they will do it again.  Case in point: During the late, great debate, I heard scientists testify in front of legislative committees and repeatedly assert falsely in public debates that adult stem were of limited use because they are ”unipotent,” that is, they could only become their own kind of tissue type, e.g., blood could become blood, fat, fat, etc. 

My head wanted to explode at the blatant lie, which was repeated and repeated and repeated. Adult stem cells are–and were known to be then–”multipotent,” that is, they can become several types of cells. (Pluripotent can become any type of cell.)

Which brings us to the latest adult stem cell breakthrough. Scientists have turned human fat stem cells into bone. From the Telegraph story:

“Scientists have grown human bone from stem cells in a laboratory. The development opens the way for patients to have broken bones repaired or even replaced with entire new ones grown outside the body from a patient’s own cells. The researchers started with stem cells taken from fat tissue. It took around  a month to grow them into sections of fully-formed living human bone up to a couple of inches long. The first trial in patients is on course to be conducted later this year, by an Israeli biotechnology company that has been working with academics on the technology. …

“Already animals have successfully received bone transplants. The scientists were able to insert almost an inch of laboratory-grown human bone into the middle section of a rat’s leg bone, where it successfully merged with the remaining animal bone. The technique could ultimately allow doctors to replace bones that have been smashed in accidents, fill in defects where bone is missing such as cleft palate, or carry out reconstructive plastic surgery.”


Categories: Adult Stem Cells