Why the stem cell controversy is a non-issue!© 2005
by Eva Marsh MEng BSc
“Scientists have derived potentially therapeutic stem cells from adult, human testicles—a development that may eventually make new medical treatments possible while avoiding moral dilemmas.” Update by Brian Handwerk for National Geographic News, October 8, 2008
Stem – to originate, derive, or be descendent …
My funny symptoms began the summer I was eight years old. The doctor said it was my imagination. When I was sixteen, I lost, then regained the sight in both eyes. The family doctor told my parents that I did too much reading.
But when I woke up paralyzed from the neck down in 1967, doctors wasted no time confirming the diagnosis – multiple sclerosis. They told me that I would never recover, and to get my affairs in order because I “didn’t have long.”
Somehow, I knew I’d recover. I had two beautiful little girls to raise. My girls were one and two years old and I decided that their lives were not going to be ruined because of my problem. I was told that I was “in denial.”
We played games together. We crawled around the apartment, sang songs, and had lots of naps! This gave me movement and the rest that I desperately needed. As I began to recover, I started to do more, and within three months I was fully recovered and ready to return to work where I was a junior lab technician in the Pharmacology research laboratory at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Curious about the science and history of multiple sclerosis, I decided to see what the medical library had to offer. My efforts were rewarded. I soon found the first research published on repair of myelin, by Dr Mary Bartlett Bunge (Bunge et al 1961.) Myelin is the nerve covering that is damaged by disease activity of MS. Using adult cats, Bunge made electron microscope slides of damaged spinal cord tissue. After 64 days, there was evidence of repair in all the damaged tissue.
Bunge also observed, that by this time, the condition of the animals, not sacrificed for the study, was back to normal!
In discussion of how healing cells arise, Bunge suggests that
“the embryonic cell type considered to be the ancestor (of) myelin … is reformed in the lesion in the same way it is formed in normal development.” My girls were models for normal development; I was the model for normal re-development. Traditional medical practitioners believe recovery to be abnormal. After all this time, you can imagine my excitement on reading two newspaper articles that appeared recently.
Stem cell injections help mice walk again, by Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press, Hamilton Spectator, Tuesday, September 20, 2005. The title of the journal article is, Human neural stem cells differentiate and promote locomotor recovery in spinal cord-injured mice.
In this report, lead researcher Aileen Anderson of the University of California was surprised that stem cells, didn’t just form new cells … also formed cells that create the biological insulation [myelin] that nerve fibres need to communicate. The only way possible for the mice to walk again, was, to develop the essential nerve cell insulation and connecting fibres! Should this cell activity be a surprise?
In the 60’s, before the label ‘stem cell’ was applied, physiology books described “undifferentiated cells” that respond to the instructions of the local cell population to generate healthy new cells. The term ‘embryonic’ was employed to convey the meaning, “… progenitors, forefathers, ancestors in direct line …” These cells can be identified in adults – as well as embryos and it was then perceived that cells of embryos might hold the answer … Stem – to originate, derive, or be descendent; embryonic and stem seem rather redundant.
In the modern age it’s a no-brainer to take the literal rather than the metaphoric meaning of these terms. In recent articles, these terms have once again been updated to “multipotent, self- renewing … endogenous progenitor cells …”
No matter what we call these cells, found throughout the body, they hold the answer to healing. These references explore ways that we can initiate the healing process with intention, attention and action. To review: access PUBMED and type in undifferentiated AND precursor AND embryonic stem.
How does a stem cell know what it should become? Nicholas Wade, The New York Times, Hamilton Spectator Saturday, September 17, 2005. Richard Young, a Whitehead Institute biologist, investigated this question, and posed a complicated theoretical basis for continued study that, “requires vast scaling up by laboratories.” How many more re-search dollars and man-years could this mean? In contrast, Mary Bunge’s cats didn’t know they were not supposed to recover – and I didn’t listen to all my doomsayers! The cats and I followed our instincts – believed we could move, expected to move, focussed on moving, kept trying to move, and had lots of naps to restore energy.
I have no doubt that this was all the instruction that our undifferentiated/precursor/embryonic stem cells needed, to become healing cells.
Recent work by researchers at the University of Rochester, using human embryonic, embryonic stem cell transplants did indeed cure rats of a Parkinson’s like disease, but, brain tumours began to grow in EVERY animal treated! In other projects, leukemia has resulted.
Research has already proven the beneficial effects of adult “embryonic stem” cell transplants. Work at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (Jiang et al 2003) has shown that the naturally occurring compound guanosine stimulates the precursor cells in the spinal cord [of adult rats] around the site of injury, to proliferate and to differentiate into new myelin-forming cells. At this moment, spinal cord patients led by Charlie Cetinkski are engaged in the Golden Horseshoe Marathon to raise funds for human trials.
Noted researcher Candace Pert, shares her work on peptides in Molecules of Emotion. “… emotions exist in the body as informational chemicals – neuropeptides and receptors. They also exist in another realm, the one we experience as feeling, inspiration, love – beyond the physical. The emotions move back and forth, flowing freely between both places, and, in that sense, they connect the physical and nonphysical … we know that the way health occurs in the physical body has to do with the flow of the biochemicals of emotion. My work has taught me that there is a physical reality to the emotions.”
In his book, The Biology of Belief, cell biologist and former medical school professor, Bruce Lipton, describes his ground breaking work on how cells receive and process information. Lipton writes that conventional researchers have completely ignored the role that the energy of our positive and negative thoughts and words, to heal and destroy, plays in health and disease. Lipton tells us that this energy, must be recognized. I have no doubt that my love for my children, and my intention to look after them gave me the energy I needed to live.
Did any of the people trying to help me “accept,” realize their draining effect on my energy?
The origins of the biomedical model can be traced to Newton’s “body as a machine” physics in the 17th century. This satisfied the established Christian religions to lift the ban on dissection of the human body. All doctors had to do was agree to leave man’s soul, morals, mind and behaviour to the church.
The laws of Newton do not apply to living organisms. Breaking everything into its tiniest bits may serve investigation of the properties of matter, but it blinds us to the genius of the living body, our quantum biological processor, to create molecules of energy that heal and sustain.
In the 21st century, we pride ourselves on living in the “quantum age.” Do we realize that this acknowledges the primacy of energy and possibility? In a time when people are getting sicker and sicker and we see many new diseases, let’s leave Mediaeval notions in the dark ages. Let’s rethink our approach to healing as a battle, and treatment by assault with noxious chemicals.
Let’s look at the whole being, at the influence of the energy of mind, spirit and soul on the healing and wellness of the body.
For the past 48 years, I have made a rewarding, and consuming effort to share Bunge’s pioneering research. My ideas for its application to living well with MS arise from listening to my instincts. With my book, Black Patent Shoes Dancing With MS, and in workshops, and presentations, I have been reaching many individuals with the possibility of healing and recovery from the damage of MS. Sharing the work of Pert and Lipton has expanded my reach.
At the 1st Ever MS Recovery Roundtable, held in Copetown, Ontario, Canada, 2005, members of the audience who could tell a story of recovery were invited to stand. Researchers on the panel were shocked by the large number who rose to resounding applause. This audience was local; what if we took an honest, scientific look at people who recover, and stopped dismissing them with the label “benign.” We would see that our own “embryonic” stem cells can find a way to become healing myelin – with our unrestrained desire, belief, and efforts to move.
I am living, walking, talking – dancing proof of recovery from the damage of multiple sclerosis. I am so happy that research is catching up to me – and to Mary Bunge’s kitty-cats! Care to comment?
Bunge MB, Bunge RP and Ris H (1960) Ultrastructural Study of Remyelination in an Experimental Lesion in Adult Cat Spinal Cord. Journal of Biophysics, Biochemistry and Cytology, Volume 10, pages 67-94, 1961.
Boyer LA, Lee TI, Cole MF, Johnstone SE, Levine SS, Zucker JP, Guenther MG, Kumar RM, Murray HL, Jenner RG, Clifford DK, Melton DA, Jaenisch R, Young RA. Core Transcriptional Regulatory Circuitry in Human Embryonic Stem Cells. Cell 2005 Sept 6.
Cummings Brian J, Nobuko Uchida, Stanley J Tamaki, Desiree L Salazar, Mitra Hooshmand, Robert Summers, Fred H Cage, and Aileen J Anderson. Human neural stem cells differentiate and promote locomotor recovery in spinal cord-injured mice. Proceedings of National Academy of Science Sept 19, 2005.
Shucui Jiang, Mohammad I. Khan, Yao Lu, Jian Wang, Josef Buttigieg, Eva S.Werstiuk, Renata Ciccarelli, Francesco Caciagli and Michel P. Rathbone. Guanosine promotes myelination and functional recovery in chronic spinal injury. NeuroReport December 14(18):2463-2467 © 2003.