By Peter J. Smith
UNITED KINGDOM, August 18, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A prestigious UK researcher says that scientists have made great advancements in treating and curing diseases from stem-cell therapies obtained from umbilical cord blood, a science that he says renders unnecessary any embryonic stem-cell research.
In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews.com, Dr. Peter Hollands, Chief Science Officer of the UK Cord Blood Bank and an early pioneer of (non-human) embryonic stem-cell research, spoke about the great strides being made for patients suffering from cancer and disease through stem-cell therapies using the morally acceptable cord blood.
“Cord blood stem cells have currently been transplanted just over 6000 times worldwide in the treatment of 45 different diseases,” stated Dr. Hollands. “These diseases are currently blood disorders and also the repair of the bone marrow following high dose chemotherapy for cancer.”Â
“The most dramatic cord blood transplant is perhaps that of Patrizia Durante who developed leukemia during pregnancy and was transplanted with her own babies’ cord blood stem cells,” said Dr. Hollands. (See www.cellsforlife.com and the Victoria Angel Registry of Hope section for the complete story.)
Stem-cells from cord blood come from blood in the placenta and umbilical cord. Once the cord is cut and both mother and child are well taken care of, a simple procedure collects the cord blood into a special collection bag, which is then processed, frozen and stored in a special laboratory. However, Dr. Hollands laments that cord blood is discarded too often as biological waste in approximately 98% of deliveries.
“This is a massive waste of life saving stem-cells on a daily basis which we must all work to resolve.”
Dr. Hollands revealed that researchers at the Laurentian University in Ontario (www.nhor.net) are preparing the next breakthrough in stem-cell research through a clinical trial testing the ability of cord blood stem cells to treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a debilitating disease which affects 400,000 Americans and 2.5 million persons worldwide.
“If successful this trial will revolutionize cord blood stem cell technology worldwide,” said Dr. Hollands, who is Scientific Advisor to the project supported by Cells for Life.
According to Dr. Hollands, the secret of cord blood’s success lies with very adaptable cells found in cord blood called “mesenchymal stem cells.” These stem-cells – found also in the umbilical cord itself – have an immature quality, which make them very flexible and adaptable in transplants, and can have at least a 50% donor-mismatch.
“These stem cells can produce a whole range of tissue types making cord blood stem cells capable of repairing such things as nerve tissue, muscle (skeletal and cardiac), connective tissue and endocrine cells such as insulin secreting cells. This means that in cord blood we have … just as much potential as embryonic stem cells but without all of the related objections and technical concerns.” Dr. Hollands indicated that the process has an 80% success rate and not one of the 6000 cord blood recipients have ever developed transplant related tumors, a lethal reality in embryonic stem-cell therapies.
“Our research in Manchester UK is focused on the creation of neuronal, muscular and endocrine stem cells for transplant from cord blood stem cells.” Soon a new state of the art lab in Manchester UK will open this fall and will be used for the processing and storage of cord blood and more ground breaking stem cell research.
“My current role with UK Cord Blood Bank enables me to work on cord blood stem cell technology which I believe is the realistic future of stem cell technology,” said Dr. Hollands, who maintains that only when the great accomplishments of cord blood are massively publicized will human embryonic stem-cell researchers begin to lose their mesmerizing hold on the public’s support.
Reporter’s Note: A researcher in the stem-cell biology/clinical embryology field for over 25 years with a PhD from Cambridge University, Dr. Peter Hollands has worked on all types of stem cells with the exception of human embryonic stem cells. He worked as a clinical embryologist with the team that created the first ever ‘test-tube’ baby at Bourn Hall Clinic, trained under Prof. Robert Edwards (the IVF co-inventor), and even set the groundwork for embryonic stem-cell research through the mouse-model. However, it was during his mouse-model research that Dr. Hollands realized the impossibility of transferring this technology to human beings, besides the violations of human life in destroying human embryos. Dr. Hollands left his Cells for Life work in Markham, Ontario in Canada almost two years ago to return to England to engage in his current responsibilities. He has been a frequent consultant to LifeSiteNews on the issue of stem cells.
This is the first part of an interview with Doctor Peter Hollands this past week. The second part will address why Dr. Hollands finds embryonic-stem cell research unnecessary, and what important steps can bring a stop to the destruction of human embryos in stem-cell research.