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Riverside Girl Honored at Vatican Stem Cell Conference

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April 11, 2013

A 14-year-old Riverside CA girl whose health has made remarkable improvements after she began treatment with adult stem cell therapy three years ago was honored this week at a Vatican conference on adult stem cell therapy.

Elizabeth Lobato has gotten stronger and resumed growing since she began receiving stem cells from her father and another donor, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.   The girl’s “life has been transformed by an infusion of adult stem cells that strengthen her severely fragile bones,” the newspaper said.

Elizabeth was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, that caused her bones to break frequently. By age 6 she had stopped growing entirely.

The experimental treatment with adult stem cell therapy has improved her condition, both strengthening her bones and causing her growth to resume. Although she still is limited in her activities, the progress has been exciting and uplifting for her parents and four older sisters.

The research is being carried out under the direction of Dr. Edwin Horowitz, at Philadelphia (PA) Children’s Hospital.

The progress report was made at the Second International Vatican Adult Stem Cell Conference, April 11-13, in Rome. The program brought together a wide mix of scientists working on stem cell research.

The Catholic Church teaches that it is immoral to destroy embryonic stem cells—which are the beginning of a new human person--for therapeutic benefits. Adult stem cells do not end a life so their use in therapy does not have a moral concern.

California became the epicenter of debate in 2004 when voters were urged to pass Prop. 71, allocating $3 billion for a new California stem cell research institute (CIRM), that was presented as focusing on embryonic stem cell research.

Since then the field has shifted dramatically and adult stem cells have moved to the center of research.

In 2011 the first Vatican stem cell conference focused on building understanding of stem cell, or regenerative therapy, research. The 2013 conference focused on expanding public knowledge of the progress being made with adult stem cells and their potential for health benefits, as well as the Church’s support for that work.

Elizabeth Lobato’s progress provides an early tangible example of benefits that might develop for millions of people through adult stem cell therapy. (Photo: Dr. Edwin Horowitz and Elizabeth Lobato)