Adult stem-cell treatments a growing success

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DALLAS, Texas — Doctors at Medical City Dallas Hospital are using stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood in an attempt to save 2-year-old Caden Ledbetter, who is suffering from neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that attacks the nervous system.

Doctors are hoping the healthy stem cells extracted from Caden's own umbilical cord, which his parents saved at his birth, will replace the ones that have been damaged by the cancer, which is in his bones, liver and bone marrow.

Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that transplant doctors are increasingly using umbilical cord blood as a source of stem cells. And unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells — including those found in umbilical cord blood — do not require the destruction of human life. There are no successful treatment trials in humans using embryonic stem cells.

Caden is one of thousands of patients being treated with adult stem cells. In fact, adult stem-cell research and treatment have shown remarkable advances in recent years.

"Adult stem cells are proving to be a true winner in the race to cure disease and treat injuries," said Carrie Gordon Earll, senior bioethics analyst for Focus on the Family Action. "Whether you're currently a patient, a possible future patient or a financial investor in research companies, adult stem-cell research continues to hold promise without ethical compromise."

In its annual update on adult stem-cell treatments, the Family Research Council reports that in 2007, there were 1,400 trials for 73 conditions in humans where patient health was improved through adult stem-cell therapy.