Are embryonic stem cells the only stem cells?

No, we all have adult stem cells in every organ of our body, and those types of cells are being used to treat animals in the US and humans in Europe and other countries. We also have stem cells that are pluripotent and equivalent to embryonic stem cells. These cells are called reprogrammed stem cells (iPS) and spermatogonial stem cells (SSC).

USA Today (June 29, 2011 issue) carried a touching story about New York Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon whose fast ball is back this season after being treated with his own stem cells. Colon sat out 2010 because of injuries, and had not completed a full season since 2005. Now he is 39 and pitched a shut-out May 30. How was he able to come back? He was treated with his own stem cells! It put Colon back in the game.

What could be controversial in this story is that Colon had to go to the Dominican Republic for his adult stem cell treatments.  He could not get these treatments in the United States.

Dogs, horses and cats are treated with safe, effective and affordable adult stem cells in the US. Only humans are kept from these therapies. If you asked a veterinarian why they don’t use animal embryonic stem cells for their therapies they would tell you “Embryonic stem cell therapies are expensive, and the stem cells trigger immune responses and form tumors. Why would we use expensive and unsafe embryonic stem cells when we can treat the dogs and horses with safe, effective and affordable adult stem cells?”

You can ask your elected officials and the scientists at the NIH and the FDA to support funding, research and treatments with safe, effective, and affordable adult stem cell therapies.

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