Texas Governor Rick Perry has undergone a stem cell therapy treatment procedure for a recurring back injury. Though receiving stem cell therapy may seem very hypocritical for a politician who supports a ban on embryonic stem cell research, he was injected with stem cells from his own body.
He supports adult stem cell research, and even has worked to have an adult stem cell bank created in Texas, “..in the month before Mr. Perry’s procedure — performed by Dr. Stanley Jones, a Houston-based orthopedist and a friend of the governor — a health care bill that authorized the creation of an adult stem cell bank was passed by Texas lawmakers and signed by the governor (Source: Houmatoday.com). In 2009 his technology fund granted $7.5 million for adult stem cell research in Texas.
So there isn’t any hypocrisy, because he didn’t use embryonic stem cells. The potential controversy lies in the fact that the use of adult stem cells has not been proven to be effective.
“I suspect that what is going on here is part of the world-wide rush to commercialize stem cells prematurely, to capitalize on the hype and make a buck, long before the treatments have been proven safe and effective,” said George Daley, MD, PhD and professor at Harvard Medical School.
Mesenchymal stem cells can become a variety of cells, which is why they are called multipotent. Their main role is to maintain and repair the tissue where they are located. Transplanting them has been practiced for decades, using stem cells from bone marrow. Adult stem cells have been found in the brain, bone marrow, peripheral blood, blood vessels, skeletal muscle, skin, teeth, heart, gut, liver, ovarian epithelium, and testicles.
Mesenchymal cells can also be collected from the umbilical cord and Wharton’s jelly. A very abundant source is the mandibular third molar from about ages 8-10. These are young mesenchymal stem cells, and obviously require no handling of embryos.
The physician who performed the governor’s adult stem cell injection, actually underwent a similar cell therapy in Korea, and learned about the procedure there. The Korean company that conducted it eventually also opened a lab near Houston, where Perry’s doctor lives.