Embryonic vs. Adult Stem Cells: What’s the Difference? Which is Superior?
President Obama just signed an executive order clearing the way for Federal funds to be used in embryonic stem cell research.
But advocates of adult stem cells say there is no need to use embryonic stem cells since each person has billions of their own existing adult stem cells available to them or to science for research.
So, since it is quite clear that there is no shortage of adult stem cells, who the headlong rush to focus in on embryonic stem cells that are taken from aborted babies and have not shown any progress of working better than adult stem cells.
Conducting Talk Show interviews on this topic is a panel of expert guests spearheaded by Christian Drapeau.
During your interview, Christian Drapeau shares his theory that Adult Stem Cells are nothing less than the human body’s natural healing system. This idea has profound implications for every area of modern medicine. Drapeau contends that the idea that heart disease, diabetes, liver degeneration, and other medical conditions could become things of the past is no longer science fiction due to recent Adult Stem Cell research breakthroughs.
ABOUT CHRISTIAN DRAPEAU…
Christian Drapeau is America’s best known advocate for Adult Stem Cell research and the medical applications of Adult Stem Cells. He gained recognition when his breakthrough theory of Adult Stem Cells gained widespread interest across the scientific and medical communities.
Christian is a frequent speaker at scientific and business events worldwide with recent Adult Stem Cell presentations in Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, Mexico, Canada, and the United States. A featured Mensa national event speaker, Christian holds a BS in Neurophysiology from McGill University and a Master of Science in Neurology and Neurosurgery from the Montreal Neurological Institute.
Christian, Chief Science Officer at California’s STEMTech HealthSciences, is presently working on methods to enhance Adult Stem Cell production and delivery; collaborating with scientists and companies around the world on Adult Stem Cell applications. His latest book is, “The Stem Cell Theory of Healing, Regeneration and Repair.”
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS, ANSWERS AND TALKING POINTS:
1.What are stem cells?
A cell is the basic unit that makes up every organs and tissues of the body. In general, cells are specialized, meaning that they perform one specific task in the body. For example, a cell of the retina will detect light, a cell of the ear will react to sound, a cell of the pancreas will make insulin, etc. Generally, specialized cells do not multiply in the body. Contrary to all the other cells of the human body, stem cells are defined as having the unique property of being able to multiply almost endlessly and to have the ability to transform themselves in almost any other type of cells. In other words, stem cells are immortal cells that are nothing, yet they have the ability to become anything.
2.We hear about embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells, what is the difference between these two types of stem cells?
As their name implies, embryonic stem cells come from the early embryo. It is possible to isolate embryonic stem cells and to grow them in a test tube. Using various methods, still in the test tube, it is possible to make embryonic stem cells become cells of various tissues, like the heart or the liver or the pancreas, and then to inject these cells in various organs to support the organ’s function. Unfortunately, aside from ethical issues, the use of embryonic stem cells is still hindered by the fact embryonic stem cells can easily form tumors.
Adult stem cells on the other hand are found in any living organism. Here the term “adult” does not refer to the age of a person but rather to the fact that they are present at all time in the life of a person. Adult stem cells are present the day an infant is born; stem cells found in the umbilical cord for example are adult stem cells. Adult stem cells are not easy to grow in a test tube and do not easily become cells of other tissues in the test tube, a fact that led to the belief that adult stem cells are lesser stem cells when compared to embryonic stem cells. But recent scientific research has shown that this is hardly the case, adult stem cells have capabilities comparable to embryonic stem cells; but in the body, where it matters, not a the test. In the body, adult stem cells can multiply and become cells of virtually any tissue of the body.
3.What is the ethical issue surrounding embryonic stem cells that commonly referred to in the media?
Embryonic stem cells are isolated from human embryos left over after the process of in vitro fertilization. Typically, when parents cannot conceive and they resort to in vitro fertilization, eggs from the mother are artificially fertilized by sperm from the father. The embryos that are produced are then frozen to be later implanted in the mother. The procedure can be successful after the first implantation, but oftentimes it takes a number of attempts. And parents at times want more than one child. This is why many embryos are produced. When the procedure has been successful and the parents have had as many children as they want, the remaining embryos are kept frozen. And here is the core of the debate: after some time, these embryos are simply destroyed, thrown down the sink or in the trash. Keep in mind that these embryos are invisible to the naked eye. So many scientists are saying that instead of throwing them down the sink, we should use to save lives.
Overall, it is a very delicate question at the core of which is the determination of when does life begins and when is a person legally considered a person. If we determine that a person’s life begins at conception, and we agree with the general concept that life must be preserved at all cost, then this means that the life of an embryo must be preserved. In this case human embryos should not be used for scientific research or treatment. But this position raises a number of other equally complex questions.
What is the difference between killing a human embryo by isolating its stem cells or by simply throwing it in the trash? Is a person handling human embryos in a manner that is not optimal to preserve their lives guilty of criminal negligence? And if life must be preserved at all cost, should we allow the disposal of human embryos at all? And the question can get larger, because if we determine that life begins at conception, which takes place before the egg reaches the uterus, and that everything must be done to preserve life, then would a woman smoking cigarette be guilty of criminal negligence, since cigarette smoking reduces the ability of the embryo to naturally implant in the uterus?
As you can see, it is a very delicate question. So that’s the reason why I think that the recent scientific developments on adult stem cells are so fortunate, as they solve the ethical dilemma about the use of embryonic stem cells; we don’t have to use embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells can offer all the promises, without the risks and the ethical and moral dilemmas.
4.What is the recent scientific development about adult stem cells and what makes adult stem cells such an equally promising option when compared to embryonic stem cells?
The main source of stem cells in the body is the bone marrow. Traditional science tells us that the role of stem cells from the bone marrow is to become blood cells, essentially red blood cells, white blood cells and platelet, and that this is their limitation; they can only become blood cells. One of the greatest discoveries of our time is that aside from becoming blood cells, adult bone marrow stem cells can become cells of virtually any tissue of the body. Stem cells from the bone marrow can become cells of the heart, the liver, the pancreas, the lung, and even the brain. And not only is this a possibility, meaning that they can become cells of other tissues, but they do so every day of our lives; stem cells from the bone marrow constitute the natural renewal system of the body.
Anytime there is an injury, or simply the natural wear and tear of a tissue, the affected tissue sends a signal to the bone marrow to release stem cells. As the number of stem cells increases in the blood, the affected tissue also releases other compounds that attract stem cells to that tissue. When the stem cells circulate through the capillaries of that tissue, they are migrate out of the blood flow into the tissue. When they arrive in the tissue itself, stem cells multiply and slowly transform to become cells of that tissue. It is literally the natural renewal system of the body.
5.Christian Drapeau, your background is neurophysiology, what led you to the field of stem cell research?
Fifteen years ago I began investigating the health benefits of a little known plant called Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, in short AFA. AFA had been on the marketplace since the late 1970s, and many consumers were reporting increased mental clarity and energy, mood elevation, and an overall feeling of wellbeing. We soon discovered that AFA was an exceptional source of the compound phenylethylamine, a compound naturally produced by the brain that is known in neurology as “the molecule of love.” The presence of phenylethylamine in AFA explained many of the benefits reported by consumers. We also discovered in AFA the presence of a compound that helps maintain healthy inflammatory balance as well as a polysaccharide that supports immune functions.
But as we were investigating the effects of AFA on health, many consumers reported other benefits that we could not explain with what we knew of AFA. But the most intriguing was not the extent of the benefits as much as their wide variety. People reported benefits pertaining to the liver, pancreas, skin, muscles, lung, and even the brain. How could one product bring such a variety of benefits? For many years we had no possible explanation, no hypothesis, until the first demonstration, early in 2000, that stem cells from the bone marrow had the ability of becoming cells of the liver, the heart and the brain. When this was published, my colleague Dr. Jensen and I thought, “If stem cells from the bone marrow can become cells of the brain, heart and liver, which are some of the most complex types of cells, they must have the ability of becoming other types of cells, and if they do have this ability, then this cannot be just a simple observation, an anomaly, something of that magnitude has to be with a purpose. So in 2002 we published the hypothesis that stem cells from the bone constitute the natural renewal system of the body.
The reason why we were so interested in this view was that for the first time we had a hypothesis about how AFA could be working in the body. If a product were to support stem cell function, then as people consume this product and as stem cells migrate in various organs, then people would report a wide variety of benefits touching various organs and tissues. And that’s what we had with AFA. So we hypothesized that AFA was working in the body by supporting stem cell function.
6.And what did you discover?
We discovered that AFA contains a compound that specifically supports the release of stem cells from the bone marrow. This compound is not concentrated enough in AFA to have an effect, unless one takes a lot of AFA, which is too much. So we created an extract of AFA that concentrates this compound. This product is so far the only demonstrated Stem Cell Enhancer; consumption of 1 gram of this Stem Cell Enhancer supports the release of stem cells from the bone marrow and increases the number of circulating stem cells by an average of 25%, which is the equivalent of approximately 2-3 million new stem cells.
The important thing to bear in mind is that in this process of tissue renewal by stem cells, an important if not the most important parameter is the number of stem cells circulating in the blood. More stem cells circulating in the blood means that more stem cells are available for migration in various tissues, supporting the health of various tissues. So Stem Cell Enhancers support the body’s own innate system of renewal.
7.Could this be the solution to all diseases?
I understand that for many people the focus is on diseases, with such a discovery many people are wondering whether this product could get rid of health problems. But we cannot make such claims, as the FDA does not permit making health claims with dietary supplements. Let me simply say that stem cells from the bone marrow can become cells of the heart, the pancreas, the liver, the brain, the kidneys, the lung, the skin, the muscles, the retina… virtually any tissue of the body. For everyone, stem cells from the bone marrow constitute their natural renewal system. During the life of every individual, it is stem cells that maintain optimal health from the day we are born until the day we die. Supporting the natural ability of the body to renew itself is certainly one of the most powerful strategies to assist the body in being healthy.
But I would like to bring the discussion to a more global context, as these new discoveries about adult stem cells literally change the way we view health and wellness. Health is typically seen as what we have when we don’t have a disease, in other words health is somewhat defined as the absence of disease, but we all know that there is a vast gray area between optimal health and illness. A lot of people don’t have specific disease and yet they don’t have the energy they used to have, or the physical strength and flexibility they used to have, the stamina, the memory and concentration, eye sight, many things are not as good as they used to be. Stem cells are what allows the body to maintain optimal health.
You know, health is essentially a balance between cellular loss and cellular renewal. Every tissue of the body loses and replaces cells, and each tissue does so at a different rate.
For example, we have on average a new lining of the intestine every 5 days or so, a new pancreas and a new liver every few years, new lung every 4 years, a new heart every 20 to 40 years, and even a new brain, though here there is some controversy about the timeframe.
So if cellular loss takes place at a rate that is superior to the rate at which cellular renewal is taking place, sooner or later the organ that is affected will not be able to function optimally. So far in medicine we only look at the “degeneration” side of the equation. We try to slow down the degeneration process and when an organ fails to functional optimally we compensate for it in various ways. The discovery of the role of adult stem cells in the body gives us for the first time in history the ability of influencing the other side of the equation: the process of tissue rebuilding and repair. If it is possible to increase the number of circulating stem cells, then more stem cells are available for daily repair of tissues, supporting the natural process of tissue renewal.
So instead of talking about disease, let’s say that Stem Cell Enhancers support optimal health by assisting the body in renewing itself, compensating for the normal loss of cells. I believe there is no stronger strategy to help the body stay strong and healthy.