Q & A with the Director about Stem Cell Research at the Foundation
This article is an excerpt from the Winter Newsletter (pdf).
Q: Has Obama’s Policy Helped Fund Stem Cell Research?
A: President Obama’s executive order to rescind the restrictions on the number of stem cell lines that could be studied with federal funds was valuable for some studies, but as long as the Dickey-Wicker amendment controls federal funds, the development of stem cells from unfertilized eggs, a prime goal of Bedford Research scientists, cannot be federally funded.
Q: Why do patients need their own stem cells?
A: The clinical trials that have provided “proof-of-principle” for cell-based therapies, e.g. transplantation of pancreatic cells for diabetes, have revealed that although some cells function normally, many fail because the transferred cels are rejected as “foreign.” The same is true for transplanted bone marrow in cancer therapies. If the stem cells were the patient’s own (i.e. patient-specific), they would not be rejected.
Q: Why do Bedford scientists work with parthenote and testis stem cells?
A: Parthenote stem cells are derived from unfertilized human eggs, not embryos. Parthenote stem cells behave like embryonic stem cells in the laboratory, multiplying to the trillions needed for therapy, either for the egg donor herself, or for tissue-matched patients. Testis stem cells offer the possibility of deriving stem cells for every man in need, if they can be encouraged to multiply to the trillions possible with parthenote stem cells.
Q: How does Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation fund its research?
A: By private donations. The Foundation’s licensed clinical laboratory conducts highly specialized fee-for-service tests which cover the costs of the laboratory infrastructure. This allows research activities to proceed with minimal overhead. The lack of dependence on federal dollars also frees the Foundation from the administrative costs of separate accounting practices required by the Dickey-Wicker amendment.