Watch This 5 Minute Video Explain Why Stem Cell Research Has to Take so Long.

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hans keirstead on embryonic stem cell research

Hans Keirstead is the scientists behind the first embryonic stem cell clinical trial in the US. He explains the hurdles that research faces to becoming a viable medical therapy.

Hans Keirstead used embryonic stem cells to help paralyzed rats walk again. His research is the basis for the first FDA approved clinical trial for the use of embryonic stem cells (ESC) - currently underway by Geron and aimed at treating spinal cord injuries. After years of controversy in the first part of the decade, ESC trials have finally started on the path that may let them deliver on the vast promises of stem cell enabled medicine. Yet we have already seen how autologous stem cell therapies (those which use a patient’s own cells) are becoming available in the U.S and all over the world. Why the hold up on ESC treatments? Autologous therapies are part of the medical practice of individual doctors, given to their individual patients. Geron’s clinical trials hope to usher in a new wave of globally used drugs and procedures. The rigorous science needed to obtain FDA approval for such widespread treatments is not easily achieved, but many still lament the slow process. To all of us wondering why ESCs are not yet available in every hospital across the world, Hans Keirstead has an explanation. He doesn’t make an impassioned plea, or take a rhetorically defensive stance. In just 5 minutes Keirstead walks us through the fundamental hurdles that scientists face as they try to bring ESC therapies to fruition. Everyone who wants an intellectual and scientific explanation of stem cell research should watch the video below.

Besides genetics, the application of stem cells is the defining medical technology of the early 21st century. With it we may be able to revolutionize organ transplants and develop treatments for conditions ranging from blindness to AIDS. Autologous treatments hold remarkable promise, but so too do ESC derived drugs which may use the cells of one individual to treat thousands. With so many hopes pinned to stem cell therapies it’s no wonder that many are frustrated at their unavailability and seek to obtain them outside the US. We can lament the slow process of FDA approval, and the seemingly needless politicking and bureaucracy that surrounds it. However, as we seek the benefits of advanced technologies it’s important to remember the very real and necessary scientific steps that they must proceed through before we can all safely enjoy them. Many thanks to Dr. Keirstead and CIRM for the brief but precise video explaining just that.

[screen capture and video credit: CIRM]
[source: University California Irvine, CIRM]

Discussion — 30 Responses

  • nmg March 15, 2010 on 5:12 pm

    The FDA should be undone. Eliminate the FDA now!

  • Crow March 15, 2010 on 11:34 pm

    The FDA has it's function.

    But yes. The FDA is not a suitable organ for treating this kind of case. Then again, a lot of large controlling functions are unsuitable for todays world. See the copyright protection organizations, bureaucratic governments, hierarchial social structures etc.

    All of these must be redone, if not reinvented, for the coming future.

  • CS March 16, 2010 on 12:36 pm

    I could listen to him all day. Fastest passing five minutes in a long time. Very interesting.

  • fran March 16, 2010 on 3:29 pm

    Look the guy is doing all he can with the environment (fda) that oversees his activities….what happens when people like him move to conduct their research in more hospitable areas?

    Roth Capital Partners issued a Buy rating on NeoStem (AMEX: NBS) Monday, citing the company's move in acquiring a pharmaceutical company in China that opens new opportunities to more rapidly develop its stem cell therapeutics for a wide range of disorders.

    While stem cell research in the United States experienced severe setbacks during the Bush administration when the government cut embryonic stem cell support, President Obama lifted those sanctions to a degree in permitting adult stem cell research and development — even encouraging it. Yet while most Americans still reel at the thought of human cloning, researchers today are not mirroring the famous 'dolly the sheep' clone activities but are instead focusing on adult stem cell applications which are proving to be the next wave of medical breakthroughs.
    Dual Stem Cell Market Approach Benefits Investors
    http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/ma

  • fran March 17, 2010 on 2:04 am

    NEW YORK., March 16, 2010
    Stem Cell Cures Any Closer?
    Where America Stands: New Problems and Solutions as Stem Cell Research Finally Picks Up Steam
    http://tinyurl.com/ydr6zcu

  • joe March 17, 2010 on 3:09 pm

    Bay Area stem cell researchers are hitting a bureaucratic wall.

    They thought the Obama administration would free-up federal funding for research, but now they say restrictions are actually tighter than ever and that could mean thousands of hours of work and millions of dollars in funding will be wasted.

    http://tinyurl.com/yd22hjl

  • gregg March 17, 2010 on 11:17 pm

    Local clinic uses stem cells to fight Lou Gehrig's disease

    Stem cells used to treat Lou Gehrig's disease

    A small research company on the North Shore is launching a ground breaking protocol that the world will be watching. For the first time ever, patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease could have a glimmer of hope.

    TCA Cellular Therapy in Covington has the first Food and Drug Administration approval to begin a trial using adult stem cells to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS

    http://tinyurl.com/yf4wnam

  • Jake March 21, 2010 on 7:21 pm

    I just want someone to fix me. Please hurry.

  • Jake March 21, 2010 on 7:21 pm

    I just want someone to fix me. Please hurry.

  • Jake March 21, 2010 on 3:21 pm

    I just want someone to fix me. Please hurry.

  • brian March 22, 2010 on 12:58 am

    If you want to see what these researchers are up against just look at the comments section regarding hesc at this blog. The real work has not even begun and they call it unsuccessful. I’m with Jake, please hurry.
    http://tinyurl.com/yarlb7u

  • brian March 22, 2010 on 12:58 am

    If you want to see what these researchers are up against just look at the comments section regarding hesc at this blog. The real work has not even begun and they call it unsuccessful. I’m with Jake, please hurry.
    http://tinyurl.com/yarlb7u

  • brian March 21, 2010 on 8:58 pm

    If you want to see what these researchers are up against just look at the comments section regarding hesc at this blog. The real work has not even begun and they call it unsuccessful. I’m with Jake, please hurry.
    http://tinyurl.com/yarlb7u

  • glenn March 22, 2010 on 11:44 am

    For those not familiar with the issues heres a good interview.

    http://tinyurl.com/ya5wwrw
    QUESTION: Do you have pet peeves regarding how the public perceives stem cell research?

    ANSWER: I have a few.

    The first is the myth that human embryonic stem cells come from aborted fetuses. This is nonsense. It’s just not true. These stem cells come from frozen blastocysts (a very early embryo consisting of 150-300 cells) not used in in-vitro fertilization procedures. These cells are going to be discarded, no matter what. End of story. There’s no abortion involved.

    Second, people sometimes think stem cell research is just one thing. In fact, the research covers lots of different kinds of stem cells with different properties related to different diseases. No one kind of stem cell can substitute for another. What makes ESCs so special is they can make many kinds of stem cells that we can’t otherwise get in reasonable qualities.

    Third, there’s the oft-repeated myth that adult stem cells can do everything. This is completely undocumented and misleading. People have to remember that a collection of press releases doesn’t establish a fact. Just because one or two scientists think something may be true doesn’t necessarily define it as an independently reproducible, consistent, useful finding that forms a correct foundation.

    Fourth and most dangerous are the pronouncements by some people that adult stem cells can cure any disease. This has resulted in a proliferation of clinics across the border and around the world that will, for a price, offer unproven therapies. People go to them for help without enough information necessarily to know what they’re getting. These clinics are unregulated. There’s no accountability to make sure they tell the truth. The treatments are so hyped that people are putting their lives at risk. We’re seeing cases of people who have gone to these clinics and come back with real damage.

  • glenn March 22, 2010 on 11:44 am

    For those not familiar with the issues heres a good interview.

    http://tinyurl.com/ya5wwrw
    QUESTION: Do you have pet peeves regarding how the public perceives stem cell research?

    ANSWER: I have a few.

    The first is the myth that human embryonic stem cells come from aborted fetuses. This is nonsense. It’s just not true. These stem cells come from frozen blastocysts (a very early embryo consisting of 150-300 cells) not used in in-vitro fertilization procedures. These cells are going to be discarded, no matter what. End of story. There’s no abortion involved.

    Second, people sometimes think stem cell research is just one thing. In fact, the research covers lots of different kinds of stem cells with different properties related to different diseases. No one kind of stem cell can substitute for another. What makes ESCs so special is they can make many kinds of stem cells that we can’t otherwise get in reasonable qualities.

    Third, there’s the oft-repeated myth that adult stem cells can do everything. This is completely undocumented and misleading. People have to remember that a collection of press releases doesn’t establish a fact. Just because one or two scientists think something may be true doesn’t necessarily define it as an independently reproducible, consistent, useful finding that forms a correct foundation.

    Fourth and most dangerous are the pronouncements by some people that adult stem cells can cure any disease. This has resulted in a proliferation of clinics across the border and around the world that will, for a price, offer unproven therapies. People go to them for help without enough information necessarily to know what they’re getting. These clinics are unregulated. There’s no accountability to make sure they tell the truth. The treatments are so hyped that people are putting their lives at risk. We’re seeing cases of people who have gone to these clinics and come back with real damage.

  • glenn March 22, 2010 on 7:44 am

    For those not familiar with the issues heres a good interview.

    http://tinyurl.com/ya5wwrw
    QUESTION: Do you have pet peeves regarding how the public perceives stem cell research?

    ANSWER: I have a few.

    The first is the myth that human embryonic stem cells come from aborted fetuses. This is nonsense. It’s just not true. These stem cells come from frozen blastocysts (a very early embryo consisting of 150-300 cells) not used in in-vitro fertilization procedures. These cells are going to be discarded, no matter what. End of story. There’s no abortion involved.

    Second, people sometimes think stem cell research is just one thing. In fact, the research covers lots of different kinds of stem cells with different properties related to different diseases. No one kind of stem cell can substitute for another. What makes ESCs so special is they can make many kinds of stem cells that we can’t otherwise get in reasonable qualities.

    Third, there’s the oft-repeated myth that adult stem cells can do everything. This is completely undocumented and misleading. People have to remember that a collection of press releases doesn’t establish a fact. Just because one or two scientists think something may be true doesn’t necessarily define it as an independently reproducible, consistent, useful finding that forms a correct foundation.

    Fourth and most dangerous are the pronouncements by some people that adult stem cells can cure any disease. This has resulted in a proliferation of clinics across the border and around the world that will, for a price, offer unproven therapies. People go to them for help without enough information necessarily to know what they’re getting. These clinics are unregulated. There’s no accountability to make sure they tell the truth. The treatments are so hyped that people are putting their lives at risk. We’re seeing cases of people who have gone to these clinics and come back with real damage.

  • The Citizen April 11, 2010 on 3:43 am

    The score is apparent. Even in nations where George Bush’s mandate against embryonic stem cell research didn’t apply, all of the successful trials have been using adult stem cells.

    All of the proof I have seen here and elsewhere is a cry for more millions of dollars, more grants, more research fellowships, and more investor money. Embryonic stem cell research may not cure disease, but it will create a lot of lucrative jobs.

    As to ethical concerns. There are religions – Catholicism being one of them – that hold as a core tenet that life begins at the instant of conception. The issue of in-vitro fertilization is problematic because it is a subversion of the natural process of human reproduction. You are more then welcome to disagree with these principles, but bear in mind that those of us who disagree with you have the same rights to our opinions as you have to yours.

    This is an issue that many people whose god is science possess in debates. I had one of your readers on my site who instead of arguing on the merits of the issue spewed forth a torrent of abusive remarks about the Catholic church featuring pedophilia comments.

    We can disagree without resorting to such tactics, can’t we? It will be interesting to see….

  • The Citizen April 11, 2010 on 3:43 am

    The score is apparent. Even in nations where George Bush’s mandate against embryonic stem cell research didn’t apply, all of the successful trials have been using adult stem cells.

    All of the proof I have seen here and elsewhere is a cry for more millions of dollars, more grants, more research fellowships, and more investor money. Embryonic stem cell research may not cure disease, but it will create a lot of lucrative jobs.

    As to ethical concerns. There are religions – Catholicism being one of them – that hold as a core tenet that life begins at the instant of conception. The issue of in-vitro fertilization is problematic because it is a subversion of the natural process of human reproduction. You are more then welcome to disagree with these principles, but bear in mind that those of us who disagree with you have the same rights to our opinions as you have to yours.

    This is an issue that many people whose god is science possess in debates. I had one of your readers on my site who instead of arguing on the merits of the issue spewed forth a torrent of abusive remarks about the Catholic church featuring pedophilia comments.

    We can disagree without resorting to such tactics, can’t we? It will be interesting to see….

  • The Citizen April 10, 2010 on 11:43 pm

    The score is apparent. Even in nations where George Bush’s mandate against embryonic stem cell research didn’t apply, all of the successful trials have been using adult stem cells.

    All of the proof I have seen here and elsewhere is a cry for more millions of dollars, more grants, more research fellowships, and more investor money. Embryonic stem cell research may not cure disease, but it will create a lot of lucrative jobs.

    As to ethical concerns. There are religions – Catholicism being one of them – that hold as a core tenet that life begins at the instant of conception. The issue of in-vitro fertilization is problematic because it is a subversion of the natural process of human reproduction. You are more then welcome to disagree with these principles, but bear in mind that those of us who disagree with you have the same rights to our opinions as you have to yours.

    This is an issue that many people whose god is science possess in debates. I had one of your readers on my site who instead of arguing on the merits of the issue spewed forth a torrent of abusive remarks about the Catholic church featuring pedophilia comments.

    We can disagree without resorting to such tactics, can’t we? It will be interesting to see….

  • Matthew April 19, 2010 on 3:19 pm

    Let the research (like gern’s) be conducted in a manner that is unencumbered by ideologues. If it does not work…so be it. Then again someone with a different mind and different ideas might find a different route to successful implementation of the same concept. Why should that person be restricted by some religion? As far as the catholic church goes…they should revisit their core values, get their own house in order, and abstain from any treatments that may or may not come from this research.

  • Matthew April 19, 2010 on 3:19 pm

    Let the research (like gern’s) be conducted in a manner that is unencumbered by ideologues. If it does not work…so be it. Then again someone with a different mind and different ideas might find a different route to successful implementation of the same concept. Why should that person be restricted by some religion? As far as the catholic church goes…they should revisit their core values, get their own house in order, and abstain from any treatments that may or may not come from this research.

  • Matthew April 19, 2010 on 11:19 am

    Let the research (like gern’s) be conducted in a manner that is unencumbered by ideologues. If it does not work…so be it. Then again someone with a different mind and different ideas might find a different route to successful implementation of the same concept. Why should that person be restricted by some religion? As far as the catholic church goes…they should revisit their core values, get their own house in order, and abstain from any treatments that may or may not come from this research.

  • David Brouillette August 2, 2010 on 8:51 am

    MY BODY, My Decision, between ME and My Doctor, Not the government, FDA is a facist corrupt agency anyway.

  • David Brouillette August 2, 2010 on 8:51 am

    MY BODY, My Decision, between ME and My Doctor, Not the government, FDA is a facist corrupt agency anyway.

  • David Brouillette August 2, 2010 on 4:51 am

    MY BODY, My Decision, between ME and My Doctor, Not the government, FDA is a facist corrupt agency anyway.

  • baltbear August 6, 2010 on 9:14 pm

    excellent presentation towards a rational discussion. to those who want to blame the fda, one word: thalidomide.
    lots of so-called “scientists” will work to get welfare checks–styled “government grants” to keep playing in their labs. others will prosper as snake oil salesmen, getting their welfare checks from people thinking they will get rich by owning stock in some immortality company.

  • baltbear August 7, 2010 on 1:14 am

    excellent presentation towards a rational discussion. to those who want to blame the fda, one word: thalidomide.
    lots of so-called “scientists” will work to get welfare checks–styled “government grants” to keep playing in their labs. others will prosper as snake oil salesmen, getting their welfare checks from people thinking they will get rich by owning stock in some immortality company.

  • baltbear August 7, 2010 on 1:14 am

    excellent presentation towards a rational discussion. to those who want to blame the fda, one word: thalidomide.
    lots of so-called “scientists” will work to get welfare checks–styled “government grants” to keep playing in their labs. others will prosper as snake oil salesmen, getting their welfare checks from people thinking they will get rich by owning stock in some immortality company.

  • Tracey Australia October 12, 2010 on 1:55 am

    Thanks Mr Keirstead and the team. We are soooooo looking forward to a cure for paralysis caused by SCI.

  • seven February 10, 2011 on 2:02 am

    major government funding and less red tape.,a billion man march to get the message across should do it..when there is hope …..it must be encouraged..,when there are lives to be saved or repaired..it must be done.