Nevada (Stem Cell)

In April 2005, a Nevada university, along with one in Pennsylvania, began discussing the opening of a new medical center in Las Vegas that would incorporate stem cell biology with organ transplants. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and the University of Nevada School of Medicine (UNSM) proposed to establish the joint academic medical center in downtown Las Vegas at Union Park. Faculty would come from both universities; however, although the UNSM would profit both financially and intellectually from the new medical center, most of the financial backing would come from UPMC.

On July 18, 2006, the U.S. Senate convened to vote on a proposed bill (H.R.810) that would amend the Public Health Service Act and provide federal funding for research on human embryonic stem cells. This bill was passed by the Senate but was later vetoed by President George W. Bush. In the vote, the two Nevada senators voted against each other: Republican John Ensign was opposed to the bill, and Democrat Harry Reid supported it. Senator Reid helped to introduce another Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act for 2007. It was passed by the U.S. Senate on April 11, 2007, and the House passed it two months later, but President George W. Bush vetoed it later that month.

A doctor in Nevada named Alfred Sapse claims he can cure a wide range of diseases by implanting stem cells from dried placentas under the skin of his patients. He claims to have had astonishingly positive results with test studies in Odessa, Ukraine; however, although Sapse says the results were published, the papers have not been found. Nevertheless, Sapse has established StemCell Pharma Inc., where he acts as president and founder, to conduct his procedures. Sapse has not explained how his technique circumvents the requirement for donated cells to match the HLA, or human leukocyte antigen, haplotype of the recipient; the chance of HLA haplotypes matching between two unrelated individuals is rare.

At the University of Nevada at Reno, scientists are developing the ability to grow human organs in sheep from human stem cells injected into sheep embryos still inside the pregnant ewe. These organs would be used for transplants back into the initial stem cell donor, who would be given bone marrow stem cells. The procedure is still in development as the researchers determine how to ensure that the new organs will be 100 percent human. In addition, the researchers must prove that the carrying animal, here the sheep, does not harbor any diseases that could be transplanted along with the organ. This research is led by Dr. Esmail Zanjani. Also working on stem cell biology at the University of Nevada at Reno are Dr. Graca Almeida-Porada, who is focusing on human stem cell biology, tissue engineering, and stem cell expansion and modulation, and Dr. Christopher Porada, who is working with in utero gene therapy and stem cell transplantation.

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