2011-07-01 12:37:46

Pontifical Council partners with biotech company

74 year old Bernie Van Zyl died but was brought back to life in a U.S. hospital some years ago. He suffered from congestive heart failure, a condition for which there is no real cure. Bernie was waiting for a heart transplant when he heard about the potential of adult stem cells as treatment for heart disease. He participated in a clinical trail to repair his heart using his own adult stem cells and made a complete recovery – and has since written two books to tell people how the extraordinary therapy changed his life.
College freshman Bethany Pappalardo suffered surprise attacks of multiple sclerosis that would leave her legs and even her whole body numb. After receiving an adult stem cell transplant three years ago, “her MS attacks have stopped and she is living and functioning normally in every way.”
These are the stories of just two patients to receive life-saving treatment with adult stem cells. In many cases, the cells can be harvested from a patient’s own body, often from the bone marrow or blood. These ”miracles” says Dr. Robin Smith of the U.S. biopharmaceutical company NeoStem, “come without the ethical dilemmas posed by the use of embryonic stem cells.”
“No embryos are destroyed to collect adult stem cells,” she assures those concerned about the ethical implications of the research, so no human life is destroyed in an effort to improve life for “those who are struggling with debilitating diseases.”
Dr. Smith illustrated these two success stories on a recent visit to the Vatican where she came to give details about her company’s partnership with the Pontifical Council for Culture. The Council has invested in NeoStem’s research into the therapeutic potential of adult stem cells.
As their first collaborative project to raise awareness about adult stem cell research, the two will host an interdisciplinary congress in the Vatican in November. Experts in the fields of medicine, health and ethics will focus on the theme “Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture” but in an easy to follow, down-to-earth way that even the layman can understand. And that’s important, because political and legislative leaders – those who determine health policy - will also be invited to attend.
Tracey McClure asks Dr. Smith how the partnership with the Council for Culture first came about and asks the Head of Science and Faith at the Pontifical Council for Culture, Fr. Tomaz Trafny what attracted his Council to Neostem.
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