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Re: Stem cell show on PBS

From: Marla
Date: 13 Apr 2004
Time: 13:57:30 -0400
Remote Name: 69.19.139.176

Comments

Hi Laura: I think you bring up an interesting point that there are other resources that we basically throw away for a "seemingly" more costly and ethically questionable procedure. I can imagine they could claim that embryonic stem cells are more viable or malleable than stem cells from placentas because those are at an even earlier stage of development, but this brings to mind another similar situation regarding collection of gamma globulin. As I understand it, it takes many many units of blood to glean off enough gamma globulin for infusion to one patient. The Institut Merieux, a French pharmaceutical firm, imported tons of blood-rich placentas from maternity wards throughout the world. At the height of production, placentas at the Institut Merieux provided 4/5 of the gamma globulin in France and 8% of the world's albumin supply. Merieux became the world's largest importer of placentas from Russia and China. They processed 15 tons of material per day–5% of the placentas in the world. Makes one wonder about the other 95%. That's a lot of wasted natural resource if they're just being tossed out. Course there must be other things involved such as "convenience" and ease of harvesting these placentas and any other usable cells. Maybe part of it has to do with consent from the mothers and the financial problems that's sure to arise from that. (Everyone wants to make a buck). Personally, I find using the afterbirth placentas much less offensive than using embryonic tissue/stem cells. Another thing I didn't see mentioned on the web link was the problem of tissue rejection or basically the same problems anyone undergoing a transplant would have. These embryonic stem cells are "still" another person with it's own DNA structure. As I understand it, they would still have to tissue type match for transplant. Those cells may be coaxed into forming specific cells like brain, heart, marrow etc., but they still would have matching problems of donor to recipient. They are not completely blank cards. That is one of the reasons I have heard that embryonic stem cells are basically for "research" rather than practical use. Take care, Marla


Last changed: 04/18/04