The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly is an invaluable resource not only for insights on ethical issues but news about key developments in medicine and technology. This summer NCBQ added a new author to its array of resources, a regular update on Science written by Charlotte Lozier Institute Vice President and Director of Research, David Prentice, Ph.D.
In this first report, Dr. Prentice provides a series of updates on new findings, and a wealth of good news, from the fields of stem cell research and cloning in animals. The topics covered include an improved approach to the use of adult stem cells to treat sickle cell anemia in adult human beings, a report on two new publications detailing sustained progress in the use of a patient’s own stem cells to induce remission in multiple sclerosis, and synopses of three studies on effective use of stem cells to repair lung damage. One particularly interesting use involves success in repairing corneal damage using stem cells taken from dental pulp, as well as stem cells taken from the limbus of the eye. There is also new evidence that direct cell-type conversion (from, say, liver cell to neural cell) may be possible without “de-differentiation,” that is, taking a cell back to an earlier state of differentiation before steering it into a new cell type with therapeutic potential.
Dr. Prentice also describes the challenges new papers reveal, reporting on Japanese researchers who found potential for tumor formation using induced pluripotent stem cells to treat spinal cord injury in mice. Short-term improvement was followed within a few months by tumor formation at injected sites. The researchers make suggestions that may reduce or avert this risk, but clearly much remains to be learned about even ethical sources of stem cells as new therapeutic trials in human beings are considered.
The summer 2015 of NCBQ offers a wide variety of other articles of note, including attorney William L. Saunders’ review of recent public policy developments in the nation’s capital and summaries of research studies on major topics in ethics and medicine from around the world. For more information on subscribing to NCBQ, to read sample articles, or to purchase an individual article, visit the website of the National Catholic Bioethics Center here.
Charles A. Donovan is president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute.