The media gave Christopher Reeves campaign for
embryonic stem cell research significant coverage both before and after his death. Now the cure for spinal cord injuries that
he was seeking may have arrived. This
exciting first step did not require embryonic stem cells, but rather, stem cells derived
from umbilical cord blood.
A South Korean woman paralyzed for 20 years is walking again after scientists say they
repaired her damaged spine using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood. Hwang Mi-Soon, 37, had been bedridden since
damaging her back in an accident two decades ago. Last
week her eyes glistened with tears as she walked again with the help of a walking frame at
a press conference where South Korea researchers went public for the first time with the
results of their stem-cell therapy.
They said it was the world's first published case in which a patient with spinal cord
injuries had been successfully treated with stem cells from umbilical cord blood. Though they cautioned that more research was
needed and verification from international experts was required, the South Korean
researchers said Hwang's case could signal a leap forward in the treatment of spinal cord
Clinical trials with embryonic stem cells are believed to be years away because of the
risks and ethical problems involved in the production of embryos for scientific use. In contrast, there is no ethical dimension when
stem cells from umbilical cord blood are obtained. Additionally,
umbilical cord blood stem cells trigger little immune response in the recipient as
embryonic stem cells have a tendency to form tumors when injected into animals or human
For the therapy, multipotent stem cells were isolated from umbilical cord blood, which
had been frozen immediately after the birth of a baby and cultured for a period of time. Then these cells were directly injected to the
damaged part of the spinal cord.
Will you see any coverage of this amazing success in the major media? Are they willing to cover a stem cell success that
is not politically correct because it did not require use of embryonic stem cells?