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Live Patients & Dead Mice

The little-known story of the stem cells that actually work.
2005This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

Dennis Turner's Parkinson's disease had become so severe by 1999 that he could not use his right arm. That was the year he underwent an experimental treatment with his own brain adult stem cells. "Soon after having the cells injected, my Parkinson's symptoms began to improve," Turner testified in 2004 before the U.S. Senate. "My trembling grew less and less, until to all appearances it was gone."

He also said this: "I can't say with certainty what my condition would have become if Dr. Levesque had not used my own adult stem cells to treat me. But I have no doubt that because of this treatment, I've enjoyed five years of quality life that I feared had passed me by."

Turner is not alone in benefiting from adult stem-cell therapy. Thousands of other patients have experienced relief from conditions that include leukemia, multiple sclerosis, lupus, sickle-cell anemia, and heart damage. Adult stem cells have grown new blood vessels to prevent amputation from gangrene, new corneas to restore sight, new cartilage and bone to replace those lost through accident or disease. They've prevented life-threatening problems from genetic diseases for children. Spinal cord injuries have also shown improvement; Laura Dominguez, testifying at the same hearing as Turner, told of regaining feeling and movement after treatment with her own nasal adult stem cells.

British doctors are starting trials to test bone marrow adult stem cells to treat liver disease. And a Harvard team now has FDA approval to begin patient trials for juvenile diabetes, after scientists showed in mice that adult stem cells could achieve "permanent reversal" of diabetes.

Adult stem cells have now helped patients with at least 65 different ...

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