02.10.2013

Daily Event to Increase Awareness of Stem Cells

Specialists, researchers, and associations of patients analyzed scientific, medical, and ethical concepts about treatments.

Tags Stem cells
Daily Event to Increase Awareness of Stem Cells

Ruth Ladenheim during the opening ceremony

Researchers, specialists, doctors, associations of patients and ethicists discussed today about perspectives of treatments with stem cells in our country. The meeting was held within the frame of the International Stem Cell Awareness Day at the Leloir Institute Foundation and was organised by the Advisory Committee in Stem Cell Therapies and Regenerative Medicine from the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Productive Innovation.

“There is a collective imaginary in this matter which has been caused by the stem cell own name, as they seem to be able to cure anything", said Ladenheim.

The Secretary of the Department of Planning and Policy of this Ministry, Dr. Ruth Ladenheim, who opened this meeting, assured that “there is a collective imaginary in this matter which has been caused by the stem cell own name, as they seem to be able to cure anything. On the other hand we have reality, tested treatments. Research is in between, and that is what we support from our Ministry: Reliable scientific research”. Also, Ladenheim listed a number of policies that the Ministry of Science is implementing for the promotion of research on stem cells as the Stem Cell Platforms for Regenerative Medicine (Placema), a consortium formed for research on stem cells, the binational programme of cell therapies between Argentina and Brazil and Science and Technology Research Projects (PICT).

The first paper was “Basic Notions and chiaroscuros of stem cells” and was presented by Dr. Jorge Peralta, scientific advisor of the National Institute for Coordination of Ablation and Transplantation (INCUCAI), who detailed the types of cells and treatments existing as well as their potential risks.  Then, a round table was held about bioethics, whose members were Florencia Luna, coordinator of the bioethics area of the Latin American University of Social Sciences (FLACSO) and Susana Sommer, professor of Bioethics in the School of Exact and Natural Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires (FCEN-UBA). Both specialists, members of such Commission, discussed about ethical dilemmas associated with research and therapeutic application of stem cells, as well as the use of embryonic cells.

The meeting continued with a round table about donation of stem cells. The head of the Regional Hemotherapy Centre of the Cord Blood Bank of the Paediatric Hospital “Juan P. Garraham”, Silvina Kuperman, spoke about the importance of donating cord blood to the public bank of such institution. Adriana Onofri, from the INCUCAI, spoke about the registration of hematopoietic progenitor cells (CPH). The table also had testimonials from donors and receptors, who spoke about their experiences.

Also, Gustavo Sevlever, chief of the Training and Research department of the Training and Research department of the Foundation for Neurological Diseases (FLENI), who addressed the path from the laboratory to the clinic in his dissertation called: “Why is the Clinical Trial Required if it is So Long and Expensive?”  The Coordinator of such Commission, Fabiana Arzuaga, spoke about the need to have a federal legal framework to regulate cell therapies. Finally, Ana Maria Rodriguez, President of the Argentine Federation of Rare Diseases (FADEPOF) contributed the views and experience of patients.

The Minister of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation has an informational stand at the mega-exhibition of art, science, and technology, Tecnópolis. Under the slogan “Stem cells, do not get misled”, organises also conferences with physicians and specialists. They are on Fridays from 2:00 pm and there is free admission.

What are stem cells and how many types are there?

There are several types of stem cells, according to the part of the body where they come from or their stage of development. Adult stem cells or stem cells specifically from tissue are those found in any specific tissue in our body and they generate two specific types of mature stem cells in such tissue or organ. Our bone marrow produces thousands of millions of new blood cells every day which derive from blood-forming stem cells. Foetal stem cells are those that drive the rapid growth and development of foetus’ organs. As in the case of adult stem cells, foetal stem cells are in general specific for such tissue, and they generate the types of adult cells that are found in the specific tissue or organ where they are found.

Umbilical cord blood stem cells are present when a child is born in his/her umbilical cord and placenta and have a high number of blood-forming stem cells. Medical applications of the cordon blood are similar to those of the adult bone marrow and are currently used for the treatment of blood diseases. There is not clinical evidence proving that stem cells are effective for the treatment of other diseases, such as Parkinson, Alzheimer, and diabetes, among others. Embryonic stem cells come from a structure that is formed a few days after an ovule is fecundated by a spermatozoid. Such cells can produce any type of body cells. Also, embryonic stem cells bring about a risk of becoming cancerous tissue after transplants. For their use in cell transplants, such cells must be aimed at a more adult and specific type of cell, for both an effective treatment and to minimize the risk of developing cancer.

Reprogrammed stem cells were discovered recently. Such cell reprogramming turns skin cells into cells with the ability to regenerate any type of specialized cell, i.e. it has similar capabilities as embryonic stem cells. This process is achieved by inserting 4 genes into adult cells. So, we can now generate at the labs cells such as neurons or muscle cells based on differentiated cells, as adult skin cells.

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Ruth Ladenheim during the opening ceremony

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