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~ Why Germany is REALLY Ahead in Stem Cell Treatments

A husband and wife in western Washington state are trying to raise money for him to go to Germany for a stem cell transplant for his failing heart. Erik and Jenn Gelhar have already raised $40,000 of the $100,000 they need to get him to Germany for the treatment in Dusseldorf Germany. Erik was diagnosed with idiopathic non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy back in 2007. We are happy to say that since we posted this a few years ago, that Erik has a new donated heart and is doing fine. The monies raised helped pay for his transplant. Although we are very happy that he was able to get a transplant we would have liked to have seen what stem cell therapy would have accomplished.

So why does an American have to travel to Germany to get such a treatment? Why are they farther ahead than the United States in adult stem cell treatments for heart disease? According to Dr. Charles Murray of University of Washington, it is because of Bush’s funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and cloning.

“Erik is unable to get treatment in the United States because they are not as advanced as Germany in stem cell research. Germany has cutting edge technology and the people’s view about stem cell therapy is different.” Jenn Gelhar said.

Dr. Charles Murry, co-director at the University of Washington’s Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, said the U.S. is still in the early stages of stem cell research. He said the ban that the Bush administration put on federal funding for the research slowed down the progression since it was a controversial and political issue. Actually, Germany did one better than President Bush’s funding ban and has OUTLAWED embryo destructive research and cloning all together. Germany does not fund such research at all because it is illegal to create or use embryos for research.

The German Act for the Protection of Embryos states:



The reason Germans are so far ahead in adult stem cell treatments is because they don’t waste time or money on stem cell research that does not now, and may never, treat patients i.e. embryonic stem cell research and cloning.(Imagine where the United States would be if millions of dollars that are spent on embryo destructive research were put into adult stem cell research instead.)

Gelhar also has to fly to Germany because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S., has ruled that harvesting one’s own stem cells and using them as treatment, a procedure called an autologous stem cell transplant, falls under the same strict guidelines as a new drug. This means that an autologous stem cell transplant, like the one Eric wants, has to go through long years of clinical trials.

Actually the above statment is old news. There are virtually hundreds of clinics through-out the United States that perform autologous stem cell transplantation. The procedure takes a little over an hour in most cases and the cost is around $9,000.

Autologous stem-cell transplantation (also called autogenous, autogeneic, or autogenic stem-cell transplantation and abbreviated auto-SCT) is autologous transplantation of stem cells—that is, transplantation in which stem cells (undifferentiated cells from which other cell types develop) are removed from a person, stored, and later given back to that same person. Although it is most frequently performed with hematopoietic stem cells (precursors of blood-forming cells) in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, cardiac cells have also been used successfully to repair damage caused by heart attacks.

Autologous stem-cell transplantation is distinguished from allogenic stem cell transplantation where the donor and the recipient of the stem cells are different people.

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