19 May 2010

The artists are dying one by one. Are stem cells to blame???

A little truth about stem cells and cellular technologiesOPEN LETTER

to the editorial office of the journal "Cell Transplantology and Tissue Engineering"

Once again I read that stem cells killed another cultural figure. Previously, the attitude to cellular technologies in society was determined by plastic surgeons – and this still went nowhere. Now this attitude is already determined by people from the artistic environment, and the situation is becoming close to hysteria.

I would like to draw attention to the fact that foreign (allogeneic) stem cells are "labeled" for the immune system. By reacting to the surface structures of such stem cells, the immune system virtually eliminates the risk of their uncontrolled growth. Moreover, even if someone else's cancer cell initially enters the human body, for example, during blood transfusion, the tumor does not develop, because it cannot overcome the transplantation immunological barrier.

According to published scientific data, there is a certain risk of tumor development during transplantation of the patient's own stem cells, which have been growing outside the body for a relatively long time. In this case, the risk of stem cells acquiring tumor properties (malignancy) is associated with increased mutagenesis due to the presence of cells in an unusual environment for them. Unlike foreign cells, own (autologous) cells do not cause immunological rejection. However, even in this case, the risk of tumor development should not be exaggerated, since the conditions for cell cultivation outside the body are constantly being improved.

The above are axioms in medicine. The statements of some doctors about the growing cancer threat from allogeneic (alien) stem cells indicate the presence of very serious problems with obtaining fundamental knowledge in domestic medical universities.

The information disseminated in the press about the trade in fetal organs and tissues is in complete contradiction with reality and with common sense. Unfortunately, a large number of abortions are performed in Russia in the early stages of pregnancy. In some cases, it is not possible to prevent spontaneous termination of pregnancy, at relatively late stages of pregnancy. Thus, abortion material is quite accessible and there is absolutely no point in criminalizing its receipt.

Information is being spread in the media that the material for cell transplants is obtained in morgues. Pathoanatomic studies of organs and tissues of the deceased in medical institutions is a requirement of the law. This requirement also applies to stillbirths with a mass of more than 500 g. Pathoanatomic and anthropological studies of cadaveric material are the work of physicians, which has nothing to do with cell transplantation. Cells, like organs, irretrievably die within the first hours after death. Obviously, it is pointless to transplant dead cells, as well as non-viable organs.

The plots of Hollywood horror films should not become the basis for "journalistic investigations" concerning such a delicate area as medicine.

Currently, the mass media have formed an extremely negative attitude in society towards the medical use of stem cells. The work on the formation of the legislative framework necessary for the development of this direction in our country has been almost completely stopped. It has become difficult to publish articles and defend dissertations on various aspects of the practical application of stem cells. It should be borne in mind that officials draw information mainly from the media, not scientific publications, and it is the former that form their worldview.

In scientific circles, the future of medicine is reasonably associated with the development of cellular technologies. Already, these technologies make it possible to treat a number of serious diseases that are incurable from the standpoint of standard medicine. However, at present, the situation with cellular technologies in our country in many ways resembles the situation of genetics in the post-war years. It's no secret that we still feel the gap in genetics. Let's not repeat mistakes and not step on the same rake twice.

Seledtsov Viktor Ivanovich
Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor
Director of the Scientific and Practical Center of Medical Biotechnologies
I.Kant Russian State University

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru19.05.2010

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