Research could someday help to cure critical illnesses

By Jeremy Thompson, Staff Writer

Dan Bammes injects himself twice a day with large amounts of insulin to help him deal with Type II diabetes.

Bammes’ form of diabetes is one of many diseases that embryonic stem cells could potentially cure. Since the Obama administration lifted the ban on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, people such as Bammes, a journalism professor and reporter for KUER, are hoping to see a higher quality of life someday.

Not limited to diabetes, the research could find cures for people suffering from arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, certain types of blindness, Alzheimer’s disease and types of spinal cord injuries, to name a few, said Edward Zamrini, an associate professor of neurology.

“If this type of research could lead to an effective treatment for any disease, and specifically diabetes, we should by all means pursue it,” Bammes said. “Although I understand the moral objections to the research, the potential benefits of the research are incredible.”

Bammes has firsthand experience with stem cell transplants. After being diagnosed with a form of blood cancer in 2003, he received a transplant to cure him of the disease. After five years, the cancer has not reappeared.

Bammes said that he wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the transplant.

“But the type of treatment that I received in my transplant is limited,” he said. “Embryonic stem cells hold so much more promise to treat so many different diseases.”

Bammes points out that the transplant he received did not come from embryonic stem cells, but rather from his own adult stem cells. They have the potential to become any type of blood cell, but are limited in their ability to generate other cell types such as neurons, muscle cells or skin cells.

Embryonic stem cells, on the other hand, are able to grow into any type of cell, and thus hold the potential to cure a huge variety of diseases, Zamrini said.

“Embryonic stem cell research can accelerate the discovery of ways to treat diseases,” Zamrini said.

Zamrini said that the new research, if conducted in the correct setting, could open doors that have historically been closed.

“More research under strict, responsible and ethical guidelines could open new techniques for treatment,” Zamrini said. “It could potentially create new avenues to help people.”

Bammes said that people who discuss the issues of stem cell research need to be educated about both sides of the issue.

“Before people condemn the research possibilities, they need to understand how this research can help people like me,” Bammes said. “Many people who talk about this have an ideological agenda. Many times that agenda doesn’t serve the research science. Even if the research doesn’t help me, it will help someone. We have to keep going. Imagine the possibilities.”

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Erik Daenitz

Dan Bammes under went a transplant using his own adult stem cells after being diagnosed with blood cancer in 2003. The cancer has not returned.

Patrick Harrington

Dan Bammes speaks with a student in his Radio Journalism class. Bammes has recived one stem cell transplant and with more embryonic stem cell research it could possible to cure his Type II diabetes.

Alyssa Bailey