Donating Eggs for Embryonic Research

By Mary Hamilton

Much has been made of the controversy regarding embryonic stem cells. However, there is one aspect of this controversy that is always ignored by the media- the role of women as egg donors for these embryonic stem cells. More than 1% of egg donors (the source of human Embryonic Stem Cells) suffer "serious long-term consequences"

Mary Hamilton, a zoologist and adult stem cell advocate explained the dangers of obtaining eggs for human Embryonic Stem Cell research when she testified before the Michigan House of Representatives. We present to you the full transcript of her testimony along with citations that verify her testimony:

My name is Mary Hamilton

Concerned by technology’s growing exploitation of women, this year’s International Women’s Day launched a collaboration between pro-choice and pro-life women called Hands off Our Ovaries. (1)

SCIENCE Magazine recently noted that obtaining eggs for research, is a " major challenge facing human embryonic stem cell research" (2) – or hES for short. Doctors should recommend against non-medical donations since, "up to 10% of women who undergo ovarian stimulation experience severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which can cause pain, and occasionally leads to hospitalization, renal failure, potential future infertility, and even death." (3) Yet has no "clearly established benefits to the recipient" (4). The risk "is incurred not in the actual research but in the procurement of materials for the research" (5).

Many progressive countries ban egg giving (6), yet this bill relies on putting women’s health at risk so researchers can explore a theoretical avenue that has neither exhausted animal models, nor been proven as safe or more effective than other avenues.

Divided equally, there are only 220/state clinic embryos available for research (7) and researchers don’t really want them. (8) So, this bill relies on fresh embryos from newly harvested eggs – which are available from only one segment of the population – ovulating women. (9)

Yet, 1% of donors suffer "serious long-term consequences" (10).

One percent. At best, cloning would have a 1:1 egg to clone ratio. If 1/2 the country could benefit from stem cell research, one would need 150 million eggs, from 15 million women – resulting in up to 1.5 million women with OHSS - and 150,000 previously healthy young women suffering 'serious long-term consequences'. Dr. Hwang went through thousands of eggs and obtained no clones. He coerced women to donate – and 19% of them suffered OHSS. (11) Women exploited …. thousands of eggs … wasted … when primate was unachieved. (12)

What’s more, hES accrue genetic changes over time (13), and form tumors. (14) Though rare when the donor and recipient are of different species, over 70% of mice receiving ES from mice develop tumors (15). Can human safety be assured?

Yet, many scientists claim they may be better, since they obviously can become any part of the body, yet it’s this ability that causes tumors. In reality, the scientists can’t actually use embryonic cells in a test subject. The cells must be differentiated. This bill places no gestational age limit on the created embryo, theoretically allowing experimentation through adulthood - as long it can be sustained without implantation.

This rat had a spinal injury (*) - and now can walk along a rope. Laura Dominguez was paralyzed from the chest down for two years. After treatment with her own stem cells, she can use a walker and stand … on her toes. (16)

And, without putting women's health at risk.

Embryonic stem cells have shown promise (17). But in head to head studies, adult cells (18) out perform them in: the number of axons myelinated per cell; the thickness of myelination; and post-myelination nerve signal conduction speed.

Myelin plays an important role with MS. As an autoimmune disease, a 'cure' for MS is far more complicated than simply replacing damaged nerves. This is Jennifer Molson. MS left her with no feeling from her chest to her toes. After treatment with her own stem cells, she danced on her wedding day. (19)

Without putting women's health at risk.

This is Edjuana Ross. Lupus had attacked her skin, brain, and heart (20). She is one of the 50% of lupus patients with organ failure who remain disease free 5 years after participating in a clinical study. (21) Organ repair has been noted. (22)

Without putting women's health at risk.

Crohns is another autoimmune disease that has been treated with the same technique as MS & Lupus. 80% severe Crohns patients were put remission (23) and insurance companies have begun to pay for it. (24)

Without putting women's health at risk.

Dr. Dennis Turner’s Parkinson's was in remission for 4 years.(25)

Without putting women's health at risk.

Post-natal stem cells have eliminated the need for heart transplants (26), and insulin (27) in some patients. Embryonic stem cells haven’t produced the beta cells needed for insulin, but they did produce plenty of tumors (28).

Embryonic quality stem cells have been found in placentas (29), cord blood (30), amniotic fluid (31), hair follicles (32), fat (33). A rat with a liver disorder made a full recovery three weeks after it received a dental pulp transplant. (34) Adult "Blastomere-Like Stem Cells (BLSCs)," were reported yesterday. (35)

All recoverable without putting women's health at risk.

The NIH funded 20x the ES projects as cord blood stem cell projects (36). The U.S. has few restrictions and provides more money on hES than most countries combined. (37) … yet the results are not there.

A former NIH Director stated, "Ordinary people care about the destinations of science - the answers, the miracles, the cures. But a scientist cares most deeply about the journey itself." (38) So, they accept the risk to women’s health as statistically insignificant, because "basic research is just as deserving of support as therapeutic trials, but it's a harder sell" (39)

Today, you’ll hear many promises of the potential of embryonic stem cells. One promise you won’t never hear that women won’t suffer serious long-term consequences, including death, to provide research materials for studies that didn’t lead to a cure.

Part 2 in this series will be coming soon. Please bookmark our website and check back soon.

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End Notes (Citation format not perfect)

1 Hands off Our Ovaries Press Release (March 8, 2006), http://www.handsoffourovaries.com/pr.htm

2 Science Magazine, "Issues in Oocyte Donation for Stem Cell Research", Vol 308, P. 1747-1747, (17 June 2005).

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 BBCi (November 29, 2003), "IVF expert welcomes egg ban", http://www.intendedparents.com/News/IVF_expert_welcomes_egg_ban.html

7 Hoffman, David I."Cryopreserved Embryos in the United States and their Availability for Research", Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 75, No. 5, 2003, p. 1063-1067. http://www.reproductivefacts.org

8 Kolata, Gina, "Researchers Say Embryos in Labs aren’t Available", New York Times, August 26, 2001. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9C0DE5DB1131F935A1575BC0A9679C8B63

9 Mammalian eggs must mature within the female. Basic biology, confirmed through IVF providers who run DNA tests on polar bodies. (Personal Communication, abt. February 6, 2006).

10 Lee M. Silver, Ph.D. Professor of Molecular Biology & Public Affairs (Personal Communication, Oct. 9, 2005)

11 "Investigations Document Still More Problems for Stem Cell Researchers", Science 10 February 2006:

Vol. 311. no. 5762, pp. 754 – 755. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/311/5762/754

12 Scientists generally agree that all cloned animals are biologically flawed.

"Epigenetic Reprogramming in Mammalian Development", SCIENCE V. 293 10 Aug 2001, p. 1098 makes it clear that: Cloned animals have unpredictable problems with gene expression. Animals with the same genotype do not have the same phenotype; This problem is heightened with embryonic stem cells; This problem is neither predictable and can be triggered throughout the life of the cloned organism.

Sugaya, Kiminobu (Personal Communication, January 6, 2003). "Fundamental problem with the cloning is based on the metylation of DNA. Why our body cell has exact same genetic materials, but they become different type of cells? This is because of gene regulation by DNA metylaltion, which is a kind of memory of the cells.

If we put nuclei isolated from skin or other cells to the egg, it contains memory to become skin some extent.

So, it may not develop into the normal embryo to generate stem cells. Now we are working on the adult bone marrow stem cells to make neurons and retinal cells. It is promising and we will continue this direction."

Wilmut, Ian (Personal Communication, February 13, 2003) "data seems to say that for any given clone, any given gene, the chance of being expressed is random. Seems to be no consistency between clones."

Dr. Jean D. Peduzzi-Nelson, Ph.D. Senate Testimony, July 14, 2004. "It often stated that there is no chance of human reproductive cloning because 99.2% of cloned embryos can not survive. However, these same faulty cloned embryos are being praised as being a source of valuable stem cells that will advance the cure of genetic disorders. If these cloned human embryos are so abnormal that they almost never can survive in the womb then stem cells derived from them would also abnormal and not useful for research." http://commerce.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=1268&wit_id=3671

Human cloning unlikely Primate NT appears to be challenged by stricter molecular requirements for mitotic spindle assembly than in other mammals. In cattle, the somatic centrosome is transferred during NT, whereas mice rely on the oocyte's maternal centrosome. Also, NuMA and HSET are not exclusively concentrated on the meiotic spindle in mammals other than primates. With current approaches, NT to produce embryonic stem cells in nonhuman primates may prove difficult--and reproductive cloning unachievable. " (Science 11 April 2003: 297)

Hwang claims of cloning only required egg from same female cloned … as such could only clone ovulating females, procedure would not help males at all.

Op. Cit., Wilmut, Ian. Cloning not intended for therapy Dr. Wilmut wants to use them primarily "to produce neural populations from patients with motor neurone disease in order to be able to have in the lab the damaged cells for study, to test new drugs and to assess the effect of normal cells. Secondly to produce hepatocytes of different genotypes to study responses to drugs as a means of improving both safety and effectiveness of medicines." [Note, Not to "put the products back into a patient".]

13 "Embryonic Stem Cells Accrue Genetic Changes", Johns Hopkin’s Medicine (September 4, 2005), http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2005/09_04_05.html

14 "Mother of All Cells", Scientific American, July 2005, p. A7 states, "ES cells, unlike adult stem cells, cannot be used directly in therapy because they cause cancer. Indeed, one laboratory test for ES cells is to inject them into mice and analyse the teratoma (a tumour formed of foetal tissue) that arises. So any therapeutic applications will require scientists to drive the ES cells’ differentiation into particular specialised cells for transplantation into patients … rigorous screening will be required to make surenot ES cells are still present.

If establishing ES cell lines is tricky, guiding their differentiation is a scientific nightmare."

15 Marcel Dihne (Feb. 2, 2006), Embryonic stem cell-derived neuronally committed precursor cells with reduced teratoma formation after transplantation into the lesioned adult mouse brain, http://stemcells.alphamedpress.org/cgi/content/full/24/6/1458

* "Stem-cell research at U of L 'major step', The Courier-Journal (March 8, 2006). http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060308/NEWS01/60308003 watch the dramatic video at: http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060308/NEWS01/60303031

16 Innovation, Life Inspired (April 13, 2004), Miracle Cell, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/innovation/transcript_episode6.html see also:

Dominguez, Laura (July 14, 2004), U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Adult Stem Cell Research. http://commerce.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=1268&wit_id=3673 .

On the same day Ms. Susan Fajt testified "On November 17, 2001, I suffered a spinal cord injury and became paralyzed in an auto accident" ... "on June 17th, 2003. I was the 11th patient in the world, and the third from the United States, to receive this treatment. " ... "But most important on my way to recovery is that I can now walk with the aid of braces. I am now preparing to shed the shell of this wheelchair, which has confined me for over two years, to more often use my braces and walker for mobility." http://commerce.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=1268&wit_id=3674

17 Keirsteadt, Hans S., et. al, "Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cell Transplants Remyelinate and Restore Locomotoin after Spinal Cord Injury", The Journal of Neuroscience, May 11, 2005 - 25(19):4694-4705

18 Windrem, Martha S., et. al, "Fetal and adult human oligodendrocyte progenitor cell isolates myelinate the congenitally dysmyelinated brain", Nature Medicine, Vol 10, No. 1, January 2004, Pgs. 93-97.

19 "Radical Research Makes Dream Come True", Life Support, The Newsletter of Friends and Supporters of Ottawa Hospital Foundation (Summer-Fall 2005), p. 2. http://www.ohfoundation.ca/publications/newsletters/lifesupport_summer-fall_2005_e.pdf

20 "Stem Cells Under Study For Lupus Treatment" (February 2, 2006), WBAL-TV, http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2002775077_lupus01.html

21 Burt, Richard K. (February 1, 2006), "Nonmyeloablative Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus", Journal of American Medical Association, Vol. 295 No. 5, p. 527-535. http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/295/5/527

22 "Stem Cell Research Funding Should Reflect the State-of-the-Science", Autoimmune Disease Research Foundation (November 2004), referencing a Reuters Health, Aug. 13, 2001, article.

Similarly, injecting marrow after a stroke repairs both the neural and connective circulatory tissue that feeds the brain – this is important because it shows that adult stem cells can address multiple systems in a non-invasive way.
"Stem Cells Help Brain Repair, Make New Neurons And Blood Vessels After Stroke".

"Pluripotent Human Progenitor Cells Enhance Recovery in Experimental Stroke" http://www.mult-sclerosis.org/news/Sep2002/HumanStemCellsEnhanceExperimentalStrokeRecovery.html

23 Endonurse Website (March 7, 2006), "Stem Cell Transplant is Promising Therapy for Crohn's Disease", http://www.endonurse.com/hotnews/63h711374497398.html

24 "'I have a life to live'", Roanoke Times & World News (April 8, 2005).

25 Turner, Dennis, (July 14, 2004), U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Adult Stem Cell Research: "daily activities needing the coordinated use of both hands hard or impossible, such as putting in contact lenses. My disability prevented me from using my right arm. " after "tested by a Neurologist, who said he wouldn’t have known I had Parkinson’s if he had met me on the street." http://commerce.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=1268&wit_id=3676 also, testimony of his doctor the same day
L?vesque, Michel, http://stemcellresearch.org/testimony/levesque.htm

26 "Heart Failure Patient Treated with Her Own Stem Cells Shows Dramatic Improvement", PRWeb (September 26, 2005), http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/9/prweb288148.htm and, on a different patient

"After a two-week trip last fall to Theravitae's clinic in Thailand for the procecure, Marie Carty is once again walking two miles a day on the boardwalk in Little Silver, N.J.. Her strengthened heart has led doctors to remove her from the heart transplant list. Carty is one of the 70 people who have so far undergone Theravitae's procedure, said Valentin Fulga, chief executive of the company. Thusfar, all patients have shown improvement, he said. From: "Stem Cell Heart Procedures Getting Feedback", Today’s Stem Cell Research (February 14, 2006) (There are many, many, more)

27 "Stem Cell Breakthrough Helps 85% Of Type 2 Diabetes Patients", Medical News Today (February 7, 2006)(There are many, many more …).

28 Sipione, S., et. al., "Insulin expressing cells from differentiated embryonic stem cells are not beta cells", Diabetologia. 2004 Mar;47(3):499-508. Epub 2004 Feb 14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=14968299&dopt=Abstract

29 Miki, Toshio, et. al., "Stem Cell Characteristics of Amniotic Epithelial Cells", Stem Cells.2005; 0: 200403571. http://stemcells.alphamedpress.org/cgi/content/abstract/2004-0357v1

30 "Type 1 Diabetes; Researchers Make "embryonic-like" Stem Cells From Umbilical Cord Blood", Blood Weekly (September 8, 2005).

31 "Cells from amniotic fluid used to tissue-engineer a new trachea", EurekAlert (October 8, 2005), http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-10/chb-cfa100405.php more: "Amniotic fluid may hold 'ethical' stem cells", New Scientist (June 3, 2003) Journal reference: Human Reproduction (vol 18, p 1489). http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3886

32 "Stem Cell Research; Data Show Hair Follicle Stem Cells Rival Embryonic Stem Cells in Regenerative Potential", Gene Therapy Weekly (January 26, 2006).

33 "Stem Cell Media Advisory: Leaders in Adult Stem Cells Derived from Fat to Hold News Conference", Business Wire (September 8, 2005).

34 "Japanese Scientists Discover Fast-growing Stem Cell", Daily Yomiuri (March 11, 2006).

35 Specifically: Moraga Biotechnology Corporation, Los Angeles, California adult stem cell research company, has announced that they have discovered a primitive stem cell that is very similar to embryonic stem cells. Researchers at Moraga have discovered that these adult stem cells can differentiate into nearly any type of tissue or organs. Notable in this is that these stem cells can actually differentiate into spermatogonia. These stem cells are widespread throughout the body and appear to be retained in adult tissues as "Blastomere-Like Stem Cells (BLSCs)." FROM: "Stem Cell Research Quickie - New Adult Stem Cell Found".

36 For more information on the success of cord blood, visit: http://www.nationalcordbloodprogram.org/

37 Op. Cit. Scientific American (2005), P. A120-121.

38 Fallows, James. "The Political Scientist" New Yorker (06/07/99) Vol. 75, No. 14, p. 66

39 Actual quote: Basic research w/SC is just as deserving of support as therapeutic trials, but it's a harder sell" James Battey, Ph.D. Director of NIH Stem Cell Advisory Task Force.

Weiss, Rick, "Stem Cells an Unlikely Therapy for Alzheimer's" Washington Post, June 10, 2004.

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