A Korean Catholic hospital has shown that adult stem cells can be used to treat cancer. CNS file photo

SEOUL – Recent research by a South Korean Catholic hospital has shown that adult stem cells can provide a highly effective treatment for malignant brain tumours and other types of cancer.

The result vindicates the Church’s stance that opposes the use of embryonic stem cells but approves research with adult cells or artificially derived ones.

Research by a team led by Professor Jeon Sin-soo-led of Seoul St Mary’s Hospital of the Catholic University of Korea has just been published in the journal, Stem Cells.

The team’s research showed that a treatment using mesenchymal stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood increased the effectiveness of radiation treatment in a mouse suffering from a malignant brain tumour. The size of the tumour was found to be much reduced.

The treatment has not yet been tried on humans.

If successful, Professor Jeon told ucanews.com that the treatment could be effectively applied to various cancer types including leukaemia, breast, stomach and liver cancer.

Some 500 people a year in South Korea suffer malignant brain tumours. The disease has a high rate of recurrence as it is difficult to eliminate by surgery.

Human stem cells may be obtained from adults, surplus frozen embryos or from cloned human embryos created by transplanting a cell nucleus into an egg.

However, human embryonic stem cell research has been stopped in Korea due to bio-ethical concerns.

According to a 2009 statement issued by the Korean bishops’ Bioethics Committee, research using cells that are not derived through the manipulation or destruction of embryos pose no ethical problems. • UCANEWS. COM

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