Stem cells vs. spinal cord injury
November 28, 2004 1:52 PM   Subscribe

A team of Korean scientists have enabled a woman who has not been able to stand up for the last 19 years due to a spinal cord injury to walk on her own (103 MB .wmv), thanks to a transplant of stem cells from umbilical cord blood. [Via Future Hi.]
posted by homunculus (41 comments total)

 
Someone posted this on a board I moderate. When a group of people who are ostensibly researchers announce something via press conference, I find it suspicious.

As far as I've read (and I could be wrong) these results have not been published in a journal yet. This does not mean that the announcement was a falsehood, but it circumnavigates the usual channels for scientific announcement and gives me reason to doubt.

It may still be, in all actuality, sound science and a real feat in curing paralysis, but I wouldn't believe it off-hand just yet.
posted by Captaintripps at 2:00 PM on November 28, 2004


Good point. We'll have to wait and see.
posted by homunculus at 2:05 PM on November 28, 2004


and Switzerland just approved stemcell research too...hopefully this will all pan out, and help people (and us when we need it).
posted by amberglow at 2:15 PM on November 28, 2004


i love future hi.

cap'n: i understand your trepidation, and felt the same way during the whole clone-a-rama drama of a few years back. however, if the promise of stem-cell therapy for injuries like this hasn't been realizied yet by way of korea, it soon will.
posted by moonbird at 2:16 PM on November 28, 2004


moonbird: I'm not sure if it's so deterministic. It also may never pan out. Hell, I'm still waiting for the mass-use of flying cars, rocket packs and radar men from the moon.
posted by Captaintripps at 2:20 PM on November 28, 2004


I wonder how much that woman will enjoy being able to walk when she's BURNING IN HELL.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:31 PM on November 28, 2004


Just so everyone's clear, the post mentions that they were umbilical cord stem cells, not fetal stem cells. Nobody (as far as I know) objects to umbilical cord stem cell research. I mean, every single baby born in the history of history has had umbilical stem cells that were either discarded or (very recently) stored for future use with that child or (again, very recently) used to treat a sibling's disease.

So people against fetal stem cell research would be even happier than those for fetal stem cell research, as it shows (if true), that the widely-available umbilical cord stem cells have promise.

If true, good news for everybody.
posted by Alt F4 at 2:38 PM on November 28, 2004


Can she still walk? Or was it just a one time thing? Are they going to try to replicate their results?
posted by nospecialfx at 2:39 PM on November 28, 2004


Space Coyote, it reminds me of that Onion headline: "Paralyzed Boy Asks God For Ability To Walk Again; God Says "No."
posted by fandango_matt at 2:45 PM on November 28, 2004


Korea and other countries will leave the US in the dust in medical reasearch through the use of stem cells as we wallow in our conservative stupidity. This will not only hurt the health of US citizens, it will be a huge blow to the US economy.
posted by dirvish at 2:45 PM on November 28, 2004


To reiterate what Alt F4 wrote, there is no restriction whatsoever on this particular research or on government funding for this particular research in the United States. These are not embryonic stem cells.

If anything, those who are against the use of embryonic stem cells will use this as an argument that they are unnecessary.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:54 PM on November 28, 2004


I wonder how much that woman will enjoy being able to walk when she's BURNING IN HELL.

Most Koreans are hellbound, anyway. They don't love Jesus the way they should. She doesn't have anything to lose.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:57 PM on November 28, 2004


If the invisible sky buddy wanted us to keep our umbilical cord he would have let us know by now. This is clearly a blasphemy and will be dealt with by King George.
posted by darkmatter at 3:03 PM on November 28, 2004


Most Koreans are hellbound, anyway. They don't love Jesus the way they should. She doesn't have anything to lose.


There are a TON of Korean Christians. One of the largest Christian churches in the world is there- Yoido Full Gospel Church of Korea with over 800,000 in attendance each Sunday.
posted by konolia at 3:09 PM on November 28, 2004


I don't see what the big deal is; Benny Hinn's been doing this kind of thing for years.
posted by wocsid at 3:11 PM on November 28, 2004


cap'n: i too gaze skyward for such wonders. but there's always hope (which, i admit, isn't scientific).
posted by moonbird at 3:13 PM on November 28, 2004


Indeed. The Yoido church outright owned the university I used to teach at. Largest single congregation on the planet. The stories I could tell.

Korea is about 45% buddhist, 45% Christian, and 10% whatever. But the Christians here tend to be a little.... extreme in their zeal. They are famous as missionaries in some of the most unpleasant-to-be-Christian places in the world.

The success of the Christian faith here is tied up with their leading role in the resistance to the Japanese occupation in the early part of the 20th century, and is, to a great extent, a rich-folks-club in a place where social networks are of overriding importance.

Still, there are heaps of EXTREME JESUS people here, as konolia implies. Where they stand on stem cell issues, by and large, though, I don't know.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:17 PM on November 28, 2004


...I note too, for what it's worth, that Koreans of any faith tend to give more than a passing nod to traditional animist beliefs, and are way big on what amounts to ancestor-worship and ritual appeasement of the dead, as well. Fortune-tellers make big bucks here, and are consulted on a regular basis for most major life decisions.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:19 PM on November 28, 2004


If true, then this is fantastic news. More research, please.

Although...'they can adapt to the injected bodies without triggering a big negative inner reaction.'

Injected bodies? Big negative inner reaction?
posted by greatgefilte at 3:23 PM on November 28, 2004


Korea and other countries will leave the US in the dust

get your piece of pie asap, world.
posted by Satapher at 3:40 PM on November 28, 2004


Story's dubious. From what I understand, even those hopeful for the prospects of stem cells in treating spinal cord injuries acknowledge the fact that such a treatment would be most effective in the subacute phase (weeks). By 19 years, the area around her lesion should have enough gliosis/scarring to make stem cells moot. But hey, let's cross our fingers. You never know...
posted by drpynchon at 4:18 PM on November 28, 2004


If anything, those who are against the use of embryonic stem cells will use this as an argument that they are unnecessary.
Out of curiosity, is it possible to extract immortal stem cells from all types of tissues? If so, why exactly are embryotic stem cells required?
posted by jmd82 at 4:41 PM on November 28, 2004


Still, there are heaps of EXTREME JESUS people here, as konolia implies.

I just need to say Extreme Jesus would be a great band name. Oh hey, look at that.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:45 PM on November 28, 2004


And Dubya was silent.
posted by omidius at 5:48 PM on November 28, 2004


This is, without a doubt, the work of the DEVIL!

So, konolia, does Sun Yung Moon and his acolytes not count as "christians?"
Is there not a very strong Korean presence there yet?

And if no, why do good Americans "Christians for Republicans" tolerate his corrupting influence?

I know for certain Falwell owes him BIG TIME (as in tens of millions) and there is no louder representative for the group.
posted by nofundy at 5:49 PM on November 28, 2004


Without getting into the whole red state, blue state debate, (but man, would i love to stick it to the red state people) I hope this is true, and more research is done. And yes, I agree the world may leave the US in the dust, the only way to make sure that the US stays ahead is to support more education. Education is as close as to a cure-all as one can find. Lets try to spend more on education (53B in the US) then on national debt interest payments (150B in the US).
posted by photodegas at 6:40 PM on November 28, 2004


I'm skeptical, but hopeful.

If these guys were in any way involved, it gives more credence to the claim. Seoul National University has a decent track record with this sort of thing.
posted by exlotuseater at 7:16 PM on November 28, 2004


Somewhere, Chris Reeve is saying "GODDAMMIT!"

/going to hell anyway
posted by fungible at 7:54 PM on November 28, 2004


As stav can no doubt attest to, Korean Christianity is a little...different. I once saw an ad on the Seoul subway for a Jesus-branded Visa card on offer from one of the big Korean banks.

(The way I heard it, too, the spread of Christianity in Korea owes a great deal to the fact that the Bible was one of the very first works widely published in the phonetic hangul script, as opposed to the ideographic Chinese characters used by the literati.)
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:30 PM on November 28, 2004


Blah blah blah. I like to post without reading the comments. Yammer yammer yammer.
posted by Alt F4 at 9:32 PM on November 28, 2004


You talkin' to me? I don't see anyone else here...I guess you must be talking to me.

Do you have an issue with something I've said? Do you find my comment redundant with something upthread? Why don't you spell it out for us, hmm?
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:46 PM on November 28, 2004


I thought that might happen. I was talking to fungible and the others who were harping on as if this was about embryonic stem cells.

It just happened to post after your post about Christianity and Korea. I have nothing against your comments about that.
posted by Alt F4 at 9:56 PM on November 28, 2004


...about that.

Nicely played.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:06 PM on November 28, 2004


"Korea and other countries will leave the US in the dust in medical research through the use of stem cells as we wallow in our conservative stupidity. This will not only hurt the health of US citizens, it will be a huge blow to the US economy."

As I understand it, embryonic stem cell research is not illegal, it just can't be federally funded, unless it is done using lines isolated prior to Aug 9, 2001.

That's why Proposition 71 in California was sold in part on leaving the rest of the US "In the dust".

While looking for the infographic showing stem cell classes, I came across this other Yahoo News item (AFP) about a Brazilian woman who reportedly recovered from stroke paralysis, using bone marrow stem cells. It was linked via stemcellresearch.org, "The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics". (funny site name for such a general mission) Point being: You can bet that any success with existing stem cells will be presented by many as proof that new fetal lines are not needed.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 10:37 PM on November 28, 2004


I once saw an ad on the Seoul subway for a Jesus-branded Visa card on offer from one of the big Korean banks.

I wrote about that, sometime back, I think. Remember seeing it too, anyway. Samsung card, laid out atop an open soft-focus bible and wooden crucifix, as I recall, like some sort of votive offering. [/tangent]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:51 PM on November 28, 2004


You can bet that any success with existing stem cells will be presented by many as proof that new fetal lines are not needed.
The point is as long as there are adult stem cells for a given tissue, just as much success can be attained from emrbyotic stem cells. The issue comes into play where a given tissue type a) doesn't have stem cells (or we don't know if they exist) or b) those that are known to exist are very hard to extract.
posted by jmd82 at 10:53 PM on November 28, 2004


Stem cells rebuild bladder control
posted by homunculus at 9:54 PM on November 29, 2004


Just for the record, I said nothing about whether it was embryonic or umbilical stem cells. I just made a stupid joke that had nothing to do with the type of stem cell used.
posted by fungible at 10:25 PM on November 29, 2004


A Stem Cell Christmas Miracle? Not bloody likely, alas.
posted by homunculus at 11:20 PM on December 1, 2004


stem cells are the wave of the future!
posted by clubmedia at 5:19 PM on December 2, 2004


Whether or not this story is true, it's pretty evident it WILL be true one day. Flying cars are a different story. Why does everyone WANT flying cars, anyway? They're just an opportunity to get blindsided by lousy drivers coming from two whole new directions (above and below of course). That means 200% insurance increases, at least.
posted by humannature at 6:05 PM on December 3, 2004


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