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|Health - Reuters - updated 7:36 PM ET Aug 24||
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Germany Breaks New Ground in Stem Cell Treatment
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German hospital said on Friday it had successfully treated a heart patient using adult stem cells, a first for the medical world.
Ten weeks after the groundbreaking treatment the strength of the 46-year-old man's heart had significantly increased, the Heinrich-Heine University in the western city of Duesseldorf said.
``The results of the treatments show the huge potential of adult stem cells,'' according to Bodo Eckehard Strauer, the heart specialist responsible.
The university said the condition of six other heart patients who had undergone treatment using their own stem cells had also improved.
The ethics of modern biotech research using stem cells from human embryos has triggered a heated debate around the world.
At the heart of the issue is whether it is ethical for scientists to harvest stem cells--master cells that can develop into a variety of cells in the human body--from early-stage human embryos for research, or whether life begins at conception and the cells should not be touched. Harvesting the cells destroys the embryo.
Advocates of their use pin their hopes on studies that show stem cells may be useful in the development of new treatments for such ailments as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease (news - web sites).
Those who argue against it say destroying human embryos is ending one human life to benefit another.
Some scientists have argued that research using adult stem cells is sufficient and there is no need for research using embryonic stem cells.
German scientists are not allowed to carry out research on German embryonic cells but are allowed to work with imported cells. Several German laboratories have announced their intention to begin such research.
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