Canadian Stem Cell Expert Speaks Out on Adult vs. Embryo Stem Cell Research

TORONTO, November 20, 2003 ( - Dr. Peter Hollands, who holds a PhD in Stem Cell Biology from Cambridge University in the UK has spoken out on the controversy over adult and embryonic stem cells. In comments to, Dr. Hollands, who has worked with embryonic stem cells, noted the often overlooked fact that while adult and cord blood stem cells have been widely used for treatments, "embryonic stem cells have yet to be used to treat any form of disease."

Dr. Hollands, who worked as a clinical embryologist at Bourn Hall Clinic - the world's first IVF unit, says that "common sense" dictates that resources be directed toward adult over embryonic stem cell research. "Embryonic stem cells have many legal, moral, ethical and religious objections before even the practicalities of obtaining the cells, growing them, storing them and not least transplanting them are addressed," Dr. Hollands told "Adult and umbilical cord blood stem cells are readily available, have no objections associated with them and are tried and tested in clinical use. Umbilical cord blood stem cells, for example, have been used over 3000 times for 45 different diseases!"

With numerous publications to his credit on the subject of stem cells and clinical embryology, Dr. Hollands takes issue with certain other researchers in the field who suggest that embryonic stem cells 'may work better'. A recent finding that adult stem cells can be used to repair muscle tissue, saw one of the researchers involved in the study, UBC's Dr. Fabio Rossi, said that "proposing (adult stem cells) as an alternative to embryonic cells, which may work better, is not the right thing to do." Commenting on Dr. Rossi's statement, Dr. Hollands said, "Why may they work better? We do not even know if they (embryonic stem cells) will work at all! The public must know that adult and umbilical cord blood stem cells are available, proven and ready to use for a range of diseases. We must get away from this idea of the promise of embryonic stem cells and look at the realities of adult and umbilical cord blood stem cells."

Dr. Hollands, who is currently the Scientific Director of Cells for Life, a private cord blood bank in Markham Ontario, also disagreed with those who contend there is a great need to continue study of embryonic stem cells. "We should focus our attention on the most readily available and usable type of cells and these are adult and umbilical cord stem cells. Embryonic stem cells at present are largely political rhetoric and scientific hype. Adult and umbilical cord blood stem cells are proven and ready to use. The public needs to know this," he said.

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