06/11/2005, 00.00
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South Korea, adult stem cells "a valid alternative to cloning of embryos"

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Medical Centre (CMC) in South Korea has successfully treated cases of celebral infarction and vascular diseases through the use of adult stem cells. This was noted by the South Korean Health Ministry on 9 June.

The CMC team published its results in a conclusive document, saying that "results of this study encourage acceleration of research on adult stem cells, a valid alternative to cloning embryonic stem cells".

This method could be put forward as an alternative to therapy proposed by Prof. Hwang Woo-suk, whose research team last month conducted the first "custom-made" cloning on embryonic stem cells. In February 2004, the same Hwang announced the cloning of a human embryo and the extraction of its stem cells.

Clinical testing, conducted on 74 people with severe vascular diseases, is based on the use of adult stem cells extracted from the bone marrow of the same patients. Treatment turned out to be beneficial for 64 subjects. The

Neuroscience Genome Research Center, Chonbuk University and the Catholic University of Korea participated in the research. Five of the patients had suffered a celebral infarction, 23 had Berger's Disease and the rest had diseases related to blood vessels.

The clinical research showed how treatment using adult stem cells did not cause side-effects and that patients responded well to it. Also revealed was the significantly improved functioning of organs after the transplant of the stem cells.

In Korea, some 350,000 people suffer from sicknesses related to blood vessels: each year, treatment costs around 40 million Euros. Even after costly treatment, celebral infarction leaves marked physical trauma in many cases, like paralysis and speech disorders.
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