Friday, April 13, 2007

Fetal Cells--a revolution of cures

This post is dedicted to the memory of Barbara, a child hood friend who bravely suffered horribly through forty years of autoimmune diabetes and its terrible complications.
What if there was a known way to give you a life time cure for your autoimmune disease? What if this cure had been known by researchers for most of the last decade?

Would you be angry if a procedure similar to a bood tranfusion could give you or a loved one a lifetime cure? This procedure could be done at any major hospital anywhere in the world. How angry would you be? How much do you want that cure? What would you be willing to do to get it?

Well, there is a known cure based on an amazing technique that relies on a fortuitous artifact in the early development of mammal immune systems. Early fetuses have no immune system. Their tissues do not provoke any immune response. They are invisible to virtually all mammal immune systems.

The technique works not only for all autoimmune disease but also for any blood borne disease (hemophilia, beta thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, pernicious anemia). Even more incredibly virtually any replacement organ could be grown inside your own body using this technique.

No anti-rejection drugs would be needed. No Graft Versus Host disease problems ever. (GVH is a rather gruesome death where transplanted adult bone marrow attacks and liquefies the tissue of the recipient—think Ebola-like symptoms). This technique allows any tissue (including immune forming tissue) to be swapped between any mammals.

In fact using this technique AIDS could be cured. That’s right AIDS cured for life--no need for ever having the AIDS cocktail again.

No way! What kind of hoax is this? Is this some kind of alternative medicine, Himalayan herb scheme?

No, it is no phony scheme and yes it is real.

It is possible to do all of the above and more. Early mammal fetal cell transplants are invisible to the host’s immune system. N one knows how why they are invisible, but it is a good thing they are. Otherwisethey would be rejected by their mother's uterus (womb) and fail to grow. Transplanting early fetal cells means No Host Versus Graft (HVG=rejection) problems. Also apparently there are no GVH problems either. The transplants must be done before the immune system develops in the mammal fetus. Depending on species, the transplant must happen before four to eight weeks of gestaion.

Let me quote from just one article found on Eurekalert (premier cutting edge science info site on the web). Washington University School of Medicine researchers “found that obtaining primordia early in the pig’s development rendered them ‘invisible’ to rats immune system, eliminating the need for anti-rejection drugs.”

What did that mean? Researchers cured diabetes in rats using pig fetal (primordia) tissue* without needing to use any anti-rejection drugs whatsoever. This is a permanent cure. Sit back, think about that. A permanent cure. No need for drugs ever. Diabetes cured and done.

In this case the researchers cured type II diabetes (not autoimmune), but the autoimmune diabetes has been previous cured in lab animals using fetal cells.

In addition, Pig fetal (primordial) renal tissue has grown functional, rat-sized kidneys that produce urine in the abdomens of rats. (Although a pig kidney is several times as big as an adult rat, the pig fetal (primordial) tissue grew into a rat-sized kidney when transplanted into a rat. I wonder what would happen if pig fetal kidney were put into a whale?)

Cow fetal tissue has been transplanted into monkeys to grow kidneys.

How could autoimmune diabetes and all the other 80 or so autoimmune disease be cured?

Simple all they need to do is to transplant primordial (fetal) hematopoietic (bone marrow) tissue into us.* The fetal bone marrow tissue would correct our immune system deficit and voila! we are cured. There are some complications.

(1) Degree of bone marrow replacement--Right now no one is certain whether our existing faulty bone marrow would have to be completely destroyed, partly destroyed or if any destruction would be needed at all. If our bone marrow error is minor, then just a few correctly function primordial bone marrow cells could reverse it. However if the error is major, then our bone marrow would need to be at least partially depleted (ablated) to make room for the new bone marrow cells. In some cases our bone marrow might need to be fully destroyed and fully replaced. A bit dangerous due to infection, but far less dangerous than current bone marrow transplants (aka adult stem cell transplants) because adult bone marrow stem cells transplants carry the risk of GVH.
(2) Choosing healthy bone marrow primordia—In the US we know that somewhere between 60 and 80% of adults do not have autoimmune disease. Fetal primordia would likely have a similar percent of healthy donors; however, we would want to increase our odds to closer to 100%. Be terrible to cure one disease and get another from the fetal cells
(3) Fetal cells where goeth thou? There is an unsettled question about where else in your body the fetal cells might migrate to. Could any end up in the testis or ovaries? Whose genetic child would result? This has not stopped traditional bone marrow transplants some of whose cells may be getting into ovaries or testes. (Point of interest, It was recently discovered, that you already have a few of your mother's cells surviving inside of you. We all do. It is possible that some of your eggs or sperm have your Mom's DNA, not yours.) No one knows the answer to where non-related fetal cells would go. Until very recently there has been no way to track the transplanted cells. So far neither of the two new tracking devices/techniques has been used to answer this question. But the will be soon put to that prpose, I am sure.
(4) the queasy factor I (animals)—Do I want some other animal’s cells running around in my body. In the case of AIDS, I think yes. Baboons do not get AIDS. They are immune. Maybe as little as a teaspoon of baboon primordial (fetal) bone marrow could be a permanent cure. Maybe more would be needed. The key is transferring baboon immune cells to people cures those people of AIDS.
(5) the queasy factor II (religious) Do I want human fetal cells inside me? Isn’t that the height of immorality? No, in fact it is just the opposite.
When our middle child died as a fetus twenty six years ago, my wife and I would have been comforted to know that some of his/her organs or tissues could have saved others.
Our lost was caused by a natural, spontaneous miscarriage. But perhaps it turn out that a miscarriaged fetus cannot be used—too much damage. What if my wife had been injured in a terrible accident and the fetus could not be carried to term? Would we have donated tissues and organs? Of course! Would it have lessened the loss? Absolutely. I would love to think of some part of that lost child alive somewhere, curing someone.
Because of the ability to expand fetal tissues in the lab, it might be possible for the loss of one fetus in a terrible accident to cure dozens, perhaps hundreds, and conceivably thousands of suffering people. I do not know about your God or your morality, but my God and my morality would not only condone but demand that I donate those tissues and organs.

Why haven’t these cures come? Mostly because you do not know they are possible. If everyone were aware of these types of cures, they would happen. One month of Iraq War funding gets the first cures to people in the next few months. If we took action now, the first fetal cell cures would be available before the years end.

It would take perhaps a little longer for autoimmune disease but hemophilia and sickle cell anemia could have permanent fetal cell cures before this Christmas (2007).

Treatments for replacement organs could be started as soon as proof of concept experiments were done in animals. Those who needed new kidneys, even new fingers, hands or eyes, could have them by Christmas 2008.

For the autoimmune community and for AIDS, perhaps a year or two would be needed. The problems of hidden viruses, the lurking fear of late stage GVH, and the questions of where all those fetal cells would end up—all have to be resolved in animal experiments first. We have the technology in place now to solve each of these questions. We just do not have the will.

If the research goes on as it is today in fifty or sixty years, these fetal cell therapies will be routine. But if we push hard, these fetal cell cures could be ours (autoimmune community) in under five years.

So sit back wait and hope for fifty or start making some noise and get these permanent life- time cures in the next few years. The choice is yours.

Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928. It wasn’t until the middle of World War II, fifteen years later that it became widely available. In those fifteen years how many thousands of people died needlessly of horrible bacterial infections?

How many of us will die before we demand the cures. We have recently lost Susan Butcher, four time Iditarod Champ and comedian Richard Pryor to autoimmune disease. Shall we watch mouseketeer, Annette Funicello die of MS? How many more must die? For the sake of your genetic relatives, for your own sake, demand that research cures be tried on humans now!

Next blog: Best hope cure—Dr. Suzanne Ildstad and her amazing “facilitating cells”

*Primordia are cells obtained before the pig’s immune system is turned on and before these primordia cells fully form organs. Primordia cells have already committed to becoming a certain tissue type that gives rise to certain parts of the body. They no longer have the freedom to become any part of the body like an embryonic cell, but they still have the freedom (plasticity) to become any one of several types of similar body structures. For instance renal (kidney) primordia can become every different type of cell and structure in the kidney and likely the ureters, bladder, and urethra but could not become a heart.

**Remember: Our bone marrow makes all of our immune cells. It is a bone marrow error that gives rise to our autoimmune disease. Fix the bone marrow, fix the disease.

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