The following commercials were produced entirely by Brooke Ellison’s students at Stonybrook University.
From Library Journal
At age 11, Brooke Ellison was left paralyzed from the neck down after being hit by an automobile. Writing together in alternating chapters, Brooke and her mother, Jean, document the exhausting efforts and dedication that it took for Brooke to beat overwhelming physical odds and finally graduate, with honors, from Harvard University. The story begins on the day of the accident and ends triumphantly with Brooke’s graduation speech from college. Brooke’s upbeat account of her college experience reveals her charming and witty nature, and Jean’s contribution is a testimony to the profound powers of a mother’s love and unfailing dedication. Although many other biographies of quadriplegics are available, this one, written with keen intellect and an open heart, deserves attention. It is recommended for both public and school libraries seeking nonfiction that provides strong role models for adolescents. Academic libraries supporting a curriculum in the health sciences might also find this suitable. Deborah Anne Broocker, Georgia Perimeter Coll., Dunwoody
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
As the field of stem cell research grows each minute, so too, does the promise and potential of these stem cells. And this promise certainly isn’t a small one. There are over 1 billion individuals whose quality of life can be improved with stem cells. Everyday over 100,000 NEW patients are diagnosed with diseases ranging from cancer to Diabetes, from Parkinson’s to Alzeimer’s, to name a few. But at the same time there are over 100,000 scientists working worldwide to find cures for these ailments. Scientists are not waiting on miracles, they’re creating them. With each new discovery hope is confirmed as science takes another step closer toward these prospective treatments. And while they may be baby steps, the ends certainly justify the means. The Brooke Ellison Project introduces the newest addition to our cause, The Promise of Stem Cells: Hope Confirmed. Tune in to learn about the many diseases and conditions that are a part of this promise.
Stem cell research is a complex topic, for sure, but its underlying nature is straightforward: it is one of our clearest and most direct paths to treating disease. However, the tremendous promise that it holds has been clouded by mistruths and inaccuracies, misunderstandings and misrepresentations, which deserve clarification. Here are the most prevalent among them…
Myth #1: stem cells come from aborted fetuses
Stem cell research is in no way related to abortion or the issue of choice. There is no type of stem cells that come from abortion procedures, and that goes for embryonic stem cells, as well. These cells come from a fertilized egg that has no prospect of developing further and would, otherwise, be discarded as medical waste. Abortion plays no role in this whatsoever.
Myth #2: embryonic stem cell research involves human cloning
Stem cell research is about finding cures to disease, and that’s all. There is no part of this research that is interested in cloning people, and there is no scientist looking to do that. Stem cell research is not reproductive cloning in any way, shape, or form. The term “therapeutic cloning” is sometimes used to describe a form of research, but that simply refers to the replication of a piece of genetic material that gets inserted into a somatic (ordinary body cell) for the purposes of study. This is in no way related to cloning people.
Myth #3: the benefits of stem cell research are decades away
The benefits and strides that stem cell research promises are much more immediate than many might think. In fact, there are treatments being explored, and some even being used already, around the world. Science takes place at an unpredictable pace, but what is going on right now – allowing researchers to understand the origins of disease and the fundamentals behind what we least have a grasp on – is lying the groundwork for advances to be made on an accelerating basis. We need funding to allow that to happen.
Myth #4: adult stem cell research has more promise than embryonic
It is often claimed by embryonic stem cell research opponents that advances in adult stem cell research are where we should be focusing our attentions because that is where advances have been made. Opposing positions on stem cell research are to be expected, as is the case for any issue in public debate – and all of these are to be respected – however, contorting fact to support these positions is not to be. Though some steps have been made in the field of adult stem cell research, it is widely accepted among a strong majority of leaders in this field that, at least for now, embryonic stem cell research provides the most benefits and the most potential. This field, and this technology, is where we should be directing our attention.
Myth #5: there are only enough stem cell lines in existence and we don’t need more
When the federal restrictions were placed on funding for embryonic stem cell research, there was provision of funding for some 100 or so stem cell lines (a derived stem cell and then all of the cells it produces thereafter) already in existence at the time. However, most of these lines were unusable at the time the decision was made, and nearly all have since become unusable or impractical for study. This is because they have been either contaminated by cells from other species, were not derived using the most advanced technologies, or were gotten from people of largely one demographic. The need is great for new cell lines to be developed.
Myth #6: embryonic stem cell research is against the law
On August 9 of 2001, President Bush announced his policy on embryonic stem cell research. What he did at that time was limit the amount of funding coming from the federal government to the research. Research has been done since that decision, and all of it completely legal, yet the vast majority of it has been paid for either from private philanthropy or from state-funded initiatives. In spite of this, though, there are essential coordination and funding mechanisms that only the federal government can provide.
The scientific community recently welcomed an exciting announcement regarding the ability to coax ordinary skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells. This achievement, made by Dr. Thomson in Wisconsin and Dr. Yamanaka in Japan, was achieved by infecting skin cells with four genes found in embryonic cells that essentially revert the cells to a more embryonic state. This creates a type of stem cell, called Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (ips cells), which have many of the characteristics of embryonic stem cells yet have been “reprogrammed” from somatic cells.
Cellular reprogramming to create ips cells, and even most recently disease-specific stem cell lines, has expanded rapidly. This promising avenue of research might revolutionize medicine in profound ways. For instance, researchers at Harvard were recently able to create stem cell lines from patients facing disease, in an effort to better understand what gives rise to the disease and what goes wrong to create it. This is a very exciting advance.
After the discovery of ips cells was made, there were some, though, who claimed that this breakthrough would make embryonic stem cell research obsolete and unnecessary, as embryonic stem cells would be derived from this alternative source. This assertion, largely made by the research’s previous opponents, is simply untrue. There are still uncertainties surrounding this approach that need to be better understood. Similarly, this advance would not have ever been made without understanding embryonic stem cells first. It is the strong belief of THE BROOKE ELLISON PROJECT that, though research using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (ips cells) is expanding and ought to be pursued, it should not and cannot take the place of human embryonic stem cell research.
One avenue of research does not obviate the need for another, and surely, the researchers who made this discovery would not advocate for it to take the place of embryonic research.
Stem cell research, in all its forms, yields different benefits and provides different information for the future of medicine. For this reason, THE BROOKE ELLISON PROJECT believes in the potential in and promotion of all avenues of research currently being pursued. However, as human embryonic stem cell research is considered by field experts to be the most promising, we focus our attention on helping to bring this research to the forefront and to fruition.
SCNT is an acronym for Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, an intimating-sounding procedure, but one that holds tremendous promise for the future of research. SCNT is a process by which scientists can replicate a piece of DNA from any cell in the body – a muscle or skin cell, for instance – and then insert it into an unfertilized human egg to grow stem cells, in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of cell development.
SCNT also goes by the name, “therapeutic cloning”, yet it has nothing to do with “reproductive cloning”, whatsoever. In fact, despite the fact that SCNT enjoys broad support across the scientific community, there is no reputable scientist who would support reproductive cloning. In SCNT, there is no fertilized egg, no implantation, and certainly no pregnancy involved.
What makes SCNT particularly exciting and potentially beneficial is that it can create a genetic match to a donor in need of future stem cell therapies. When combined with human embryonic stem cell research, SCNT can be used to create innovative treatments to disease and, at the very least, understand how cells develop.
THE BROOKE ELLISON PROJECT believes that stem cell research is among the most exciting and potentially revolutionizing issues today. This is an issue unlike any other, as every day that passes is another opportunity or even life lost. This is a time unlike any other, as the potential and goal are well within our grasp. This is an issue that is life-affirming and based in hope, and THE BROOKE ELLISON PROJECT is focused on its realization.
Here are some important facts surrounding stem cell research:
- Stem cells are unspecialized (or, undifferentiated) cells that have the capability to become other types of cells in the human body.
- What makes stem cells so exciting is that they potentially can be used to repair cells damaged by disease or injury.
- Stem cells can be derived from a number of sources, including bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, or the inner cell wall of blastocysts (fertilized eggs less than one week into development).
- Embryonic stem cells are widely considered by field experts to be the most promising, as they can replicate themselves indefinitely and are universal in their ability to transform.
- There are currently nearly 500,000 embryos frozen in clinics, stated to be discarded. Rather than be wasted and of no use to anyone, many of these could be directed toward the benefits of research.
- 74% of U.S. adults support public funding for stem cell research.
- 60% of couples pursuing in vitro fertilization would prefer to donate their excess embryos to research, but are either not permitted to do so voluntarily or are not informed of this possibility.
- Advances in stem cell research have the potential to treat the leading health risks in the U.S., including cancer, heart disease, HIV, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, and spinal cord injury.
- In the United States*:
- One million children live with juvenile diabetes
- One million people live with Parkinson’s disease
- 4.5 million suffer from Alzheimer’s disease
- 2.5 million people live with multiple sclerosis
- 450,000 people are paralyzed by spinal cord injury
- 30,000 people face ALS
- 58 million people live with heart disease
- 8.2 million people face cancer
- 10 million people are confronted with osteoporosis
- 43 million people suffer from arthritis
* from the Stem Cell Foundation
The State of Diabetes
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. In a 2007 study, it was determined that the prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed individuals of all ages with Diabetes in the United States was 23.6 million people, or 7.8 percent of the population. Of this group, 17.9 million people were diagnosed while an estimated 5.7 million were undiagnosed.
There are three main types of Diabetes, but in general it is a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose (blood sugar), resulting from defects in insulin production and/or insulin action.
- Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes, develops when an individual’s immune system destroys his or her body’s pancreatic beta cells. These are the only cells in the body that produce the insulin hormone required to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. In order to survive, patients must have insulin delivered by injection or a pump.
- Type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes, accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. During the onset of type 2 diabetes, cells do not use insulin properly and ultimately the pancreas loses its ability to produce it altogether.
- Gestational diabetes is a third type of glucose intolerance which is diagnosed during a woman’s pregnancy. In most cases the women are either obese or have a family history of diabetes. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 40 to 60 percent chance of developing diabetes in the 5 to 10 years following their pregnancy.
While there are many complications associated with diabetes such as blindness, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, and lower-limb amputations, individuals can prevent the incidence of these side-effects by controlling blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids. Treatments include but are not limited to: following a healthy meal plan and exercise program, losing excess weight, taking oral medication, employing an insulin pump or injecting insulin (type 1 diabetes), and in some cases taking medications to control cholesterol and blood pressure. But these are treatments, not cures…
An article published by the Stem Cell Global Foundation (SCGF), describes a stem cell therapy treatment for type 2 diabetes. The patient, Mr. Sanjay, was one of the first to undertake this therapy in which concentrated stem cells were injected via a catheter into his pancreas. Within the first month, there were improvements in his insulin intake as his daily insulin injections dropped from 10 units per day to 8 units per day. With a balanced diet and exercise, his Clinician revealed that after 3 months he will no longer need insulin injections. Post therapy Sanjay exclaims “I feel great; this new science of regenerative medicine has been a step up and more responsive to my hopes for improvement of my daily life!”
At the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, John Markwardt became first student-patient to enroll in a research study aimed at limiting the intensity and scope of his newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes via the infusion of experimental stem cells (mesenchymal cells) derived from bone marrow of normal adult donors. Note:The study focuses on recently diagnosed diabetics because they still have some beta cells capable of making insulin.
In early July, Markwardt received his first treatment and is scheduled for a second treatment in August. Dr. Melissa Meredith revealed, “If we can stop that immune destruction (through stem-cell therapy), they (patients) still have the ability to make some insulin. We also know beta cells have the ability to regenerate. Even if they aren’t totally off insulin, it’s a better way to control the disease when they aren’t reliant on injected insulin and are making more of it themselves.”
While the study does not directly benefit those who have had the disease for years and do not produce any insulin whatsoever, the research definitely provides hope for future studies. It isn’t a cure, just yet, but its significance lies in its potential to delay the progression of diabetes and better regulate its effects to a greater extent than current treatments.
08/10/2009 University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health stem cell study holds promise for diabetics
08/10/2009 Diabetes Treated Using Stem Cell Therapy
In terms of stem cell research, the two most basic Buddhist ideas that come into play are ahimsa, the prohibition against harming or destroying others, and the pursuit of knowledge (prajña) and compassion (karua). Buddhism, however, has no official religious hierarchy to weigh in on this issue. It is a religion that is to be internalized, guiding, rather than instructing, followers in their decisions. A Buddhist’s stance on stem cell research is thus dependent on his or her own interpretation of the tenets.
One school of thought argues that stem cell research is in accordance with the Buddhist principle of seeking knowledge and ending human suffering. Laurie Zoloth, professor of medical ethics and a scholar of religious studies at Northwestern University, said, “Buddhism can take account the pluripotential nature of the cells, their genomic and genetic possibilities, and understands a kind of reincarnation.” Buddhists who identify with this position, like Professor Yong Moon of Korea’s Seoul National University, feel that working toward regeneration is a form of “recycling of life,” one that is in line with “a Buddhist way of thinking.”
Opponents maintain that stem cell research is a violation of the notion of not harming others. According to Damien Keown, a professor of Buddhist ethics at the University of London, “Embryos bear the karmic identity of a recently-deceased individual, and so are entitled to the same moral respect as adults.” Somparn Promta, an associate professor of Buddhist philosophy and deputy director of the Center for Buddhist Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, takes this argument even further, and said, “Donation must come from consent and wisdom. We do not know [whether] the embryo is willing or not.” Buddhists who oppose stem cell research, therefore, ground their arguments in the view that embryos are the equivalents of human beings.
It is interesting to see that although Buddhists are a religious majority in South Korea, the country is also the home to numerous breakthroughs in stem cell research. Thus, there is clearly a continuing conflict between Buddhist teachings and practice on the moral status of embryonic life. However, as these teachings do not directly address the issue, the official Buddhist take on stem cell research will stay, at least for now, in limbo.