The Maryland Catholic Conference has praised the approval of the first stem cell drug, a therapy for a disease found among bone marrow transplant recipients. Dr. Nancy Paltell, Associate Director for Respect Life Issues at the Maryland Catholic Conference, reacted positively to the news.
"Despite all the hype about embryonic stem cell research, it’s adult stem cells that are the only stem cells saving lives," she said May 22.
The Maryland-based Osiris Therapeutics Inc. announced on May 17 that Health Canada has given market authorization to sell the company's therapy Prochymal, which treats acute graft-vs-host disease in children.
The complication in bone marrow transplantation can kill up to 80 percent of affected children, who number 3,500 to 4,000 worldwide. The newly transplanted cells attack the patient's body and can cause abdominal pain, hair loss, hepatitis, and lung and digestive tract disorders, among other symptoms.
Prochymal uses bone marrow stem cells from an adult donor and aims to control inflammation while promoting tissue regeneration and scar formation.
The Health Canada decision marks the world's first regulatory approval of a manufactured stem cell product, Osiris said. The approval of Prochymal is conditional upon further testing after it reaches the market.
Osiris plans to apply to the FDA for U.S. marketing authorization by the end of 2012.
Paltell noted that Prochymal uses adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cells harvested from the destruction of human embryos.
She added that the research was not funded by the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, which has received $79 million of taxpayer money. A "relatively small amount" of the fund has contributed to adult stem cell research, which Paltell said explains the lack of patient treatments.