Cross posted by Findalis
Israeli researchers are the first in the world to have documented that the injection of stem cells from aborted human fetuses can trigger tumors.
Stem cells, especially those from few-day-old embryos, are considered by many to be a potential cure for a wide variety of chronic disorders – from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to diabetes and heart disease – because they have the ability to produce new cells of all types for the repair of diseased organs.
But the new research, based on the case of a now-16-year-old Israeli youth suffering from a rare genetic degenerative disease who underwent the highly experimental injections in Russia, is the first documented case of a human brain tumor – albeit a benign, slow-growing one – after fetal stem cell therapy, and sounds an alarm that future stem cell use must be preceded by extensive research.
The patient, born here to parents of Moroccan origin, developed ataxia telangiectasia (AT) as a young child. Degeneration of a certain brain region gradually robs these children of movement, and a faulty immune system leads to frequent infections and cancers. Most victims die in their teens or early 20s.
Although the boy’s doctors at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, urged the desperate parents against it, they took him to an unnamed clinic in Moscow for injections of fetal stem cells into his brain and spinal cord.
He returned to Russia twice – at age 10 and 12 – for more injections.
Then, at the age of 13, he developed painful headaches, and an MRI scan showed he had tumors in several parts of the brain and the spinal cord.
Two-and-a-half years ago, hematology Prof. Gideon Rechavi, head of Sheba’s Cancer Center and Tel Aviv University’s Cancer Biology Center, headed a team that investigated the case and found after extensive pathological and genetic research that the tumors were not germane to the patient, but were sourced from at least two fetuses whose foreign tissue had been injected into him.
For example, the tumors contained both XX (female) and XY (male) cells, while if they had come from the boy’s body they could not have female chromosomes. They also had two normal copies of the ATM gene, which causes AT when mutated. Since the boy has AT, those genes cannot be his.
The team noted, however, that the fact that the boy has AT may have facilitated the growth of the tumors because of the weak immune system in such patients.
In 2006, the boy underwent brain and spinal cord surgery performed by Prof. Shlomo Constantini, head of the pediatric neurosurgery department at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center’s Dana Children’s Hospital. Only those tumors that were believed to grow relatively rapidly were removed.
Today, the youth’s condition is stable, with the tumors growing slowly enough to be considered benign, but he is wheelchair-bound.
While the parents reportedly regret taking him to Russia, AT is such a dangerous genetic disorder – killing most victims by the age of 20 – that it threatens his life more than the tumors.
The Jerusalem Post learned that the researchers’ work, just published in the US Public Library of Science (PLoS) on-line, open-access journal, was initially turned down for publication by the highly prestigious journals Nature and Science.
Read the full story here.
Although this is just one case, it may become the first of many that will show up as more and more desperate people turn towards stem cells for a miracle cure.
I wonder how many more patients have had this problem in Russia, how many are undiscovered with this problem not only in Russia but elsewhere and what is the rate that this happens.
The animal studies on stem cells are very exciting and the results there are promising, but there is no long term study on the effects of stem cells on the human body. Just the hype from the media and those who suffer from debilitating diseases or injuries. They are proclaiming stem cells as the next new miracle cure. Instead it might just be the opposite, a horrible and deadly side effect. One that has the ability to kill instead of cure.