Saturday, May 24, 2008

"There is a desire..." bacteria, food, & breastfeeding


photo by Mariah McClain
Patent # 5902743 says, "There is a desire to provide women with the option to replace human breastmilk with manufactured formula/foods."
Patent #590274 is called, "Probiotic bifidobacterium strain, filed in 1998 by Luchansky et al and owned by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Association. Luchansky was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is now a research microbiologist for the USDA (for the Microbial Food Safety Research Unit). In this patent, it is stated that breastmilk appears to be prebiotic and a Bifido strain is isolated, cultured, and deposited with The Amercian Type Culture Collection (ATCC)--Bifidobacterium longum JBL. The isolate was derived from the feces of a breastfed infant. The uses for this bacteria are very specific--Carnation Good Start and Gerber baby foods as well as food and drinks for adults. The bacteria derived from the feces of the breastfed infant is probiotic.
Surprised? No, you shouldn't be.
There is a patent from 1976 called, "Fermented milk containing viable bifidobacterium." Patents inventors are Masahiko Hutai et al. and the patent is owned by a Japanese company called Kabushiki Kaisha Yakult Honsha. They state, "Bifidobacteria are well-known as dominant bacteria in the intestinal fora of a breast-fed infant." The new strain they discovered was from the feces of the breastfed infant. A patent #4756913, called Sour milk product,: filed in 1987 by Russian inventors Khorkova eet al. says, "A disbalance in an infant's intestinal microflora due to lack of human milk, dysbacteriosis, antibiotic therapy or intestinal infection results in sudden decrease in the number of bifidbacteria conductive to pathogenesis of prolonged disfuntions and metabolic failures and very often causes severe chronical diseases in children."
More interesting are the patents owned by the infant formula industry. Patent # 6083934 called "Nutritional formulations containing Lacto-N-neoTetraose," by Prieto et al, filed in 1999, and owned by Abbott states that Lacto-N-neoTetraose was isolated from pooled human milk and that it also can be made synthetically. This Abbott patent states, "Lacto-N-neoTetraose stimulates growth and/or metabolic activity of Bifidobacteria inhibiting bacterial infections caused by Bacteroides, Clostridium, and E.coli." And then we also have a patent by Wyeth by inventor Jeffrey L. Wilson called, "Nutritional formulation containing prebiotic substances." (patent #6630452) It states, "A nutritional composition is provided which comprise oligofructose and sialyllactose." The oligofructose will be derived from chicory. The sialyllactose is a human milk component. "Sialyllactoses are oligosaccharides which occur naturally in human milk as well as milk of other mammals....present in noticeably higher concentrations in human milk." The combination of chicory and silayllactose produces a prebiotic effect...increasing bifidobacteria. Last but not least is a patent owned by Nestec (Nestle) called "Lactic acid bacteria for the treatment and/or prophylaxis of giardiasis." (patent # 7229616) It has many references but of interest to many of us who are IBCLCs is the reference to a study, "Reiner et al. "Human Milk Kills Giardia lamblia by Generating Toxic Liploytic Products" The Journal of Infections Diseases vol 154.no.5, 1986, pp 832-835."
This Nestle patent used a novel lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. Yes, there is a desire to provide women with options to feeding their infants. Choice, the bedrock of infant feeding and women's liberation. While the industry liberates human milk components from women or the results of human milk feeding from babies, it tells us there is a desire. Desire....
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

Friday, May 23, 2008

Children prohibited from receiving human milk feeding


photo by Jessie McClain
In a patent filed in 1996 called, "Use of indigestible oligosaccharides to prevent gastrointestinal infections and reduce duration of diarrhea in humans," (patent #5827526) the inventors Dohnalek et al. mention that the children were prohibited from receiving human milk feeding. This was a study on children (10-24 months of age) who were attending day care. All these "children" (I would call them infants) were on various formulas none were breastfed. Yet the inventors of this patent that is owned by Abbott, felt the need to prohibit these infants from getting any human milk feeding. This is a study on daycare and diarrhea in infants. We know that human milk feeding would alleviate gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea. We knew this in 1996 and I am sure that Abbott knew it, too. How ethical is it to deny infants/children something you know will help them when they are ill? The only reason to deny these infants this medicinal fluid is because you know it will mess up your study. Many questions but who will ask them? Who is actually monitoring infant formula studies?
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

Allergies and exclusive breastfeeding studies


photo by Jessie McClain
I have been following a Lactnet discussion of a Finnish study by M. Pesonen et al. published in 2006 on exclusive breastfeeding and atopy. Since I cannot join in on the discussion, I thought I'd use this blog to share my thoughts on this particular study and how this does relate to the patenting of human milk components. One of the first things I usually do when reading a research paper on "exclusive" breastfeeding is to see how the authors define exclusive. In this study exclusive breastfeeding included the use of water supplementation and vitamins. From my perspective (and I believe there are other IBCLCs who feel likewise) that would mean that these infants were not truly "exclusively" breastfed. Water and vitamins means that substances other than human milk were given to these babies. The CDC has changed their definition of exclusive breastfeeding within the past two years. They no longer consider exclusive breastfeeding to include water supplementation. Depending on the brand, vitamins may have dairy, soy, or other allergens in them. Is this a valid study regarding exclusive breastfeeding, particularly when we know that the newborn gut is effected by very small amounts of foreign proteins and/or chemicals? It doesn't take much to change the gut flora of the newborn and therefore change the dynamics of health and illness. Of interest is a statement made in this study, "when supplemented human milk had been needed twice, exclusive breastfeeding was considered terminated, and the child was gradually weaned to cow's milk-based formula (Tutteli, Valio, Helsinki Finland)." Exclusive breastfeeding mothers who needed supplemental human milk more than twice had their infants weaned to a specific infant formula. Interesting. Why a specific infant formula? Why not a choice of infant formulas? This was from a study in the early 1980's. Did the authors get their data from Valio?
I find it difficult to understand the lactation profession's reluctance to believe in human milk, to understand the dynamics of the infant formula industry in its quest for more consumers. Prebiotics and probiotics are seen as the answer to allergies. These micro-organisms are being put into infant formulas to help infants tolerate the gut damage done by ingestion of foreign proteins. Human milk is prebiotic and probiotic. Was this study in anyway funded by Valio? Nothing states this and yet it looks like they only used a specific formula manufactured by Valio.
I find it interesting that Ciba-Geigy Corporation owns a series of the same patent called, "Polypeptide factors from colostrum." (one in 1986, 1992, 1994--patents are held for 20 years and many companies and inventors will have a series of the same patent in order to hold down the patent for extra time). They are patenting on a method to extract IgE-BS from human colostrum (human not cow). Why? as a treatment for allergy. Ciba-Geigy became part of Novartis (Gerber use to be part of Novartis) and in 1997 they filed for a patent called, "Methods and kits for determining the levels of IgE-BS." The 1986 Ciba-Geigy patent states, "Recent prospective studies further indicate that exclusive breast-feeding protects the high risk infants against allergic disease." So in 1986 a huge corporation was willing to own a patent that uses IgE from human colostrum to treat allergy. But the lactation profession is still debating the allergy issue??
Agennix, a company that makes recombinant human lactoferrin (use of this genetically engineered human milk component is based on human milk research) has a patent called, "Oral lactoferrin in the treatment of respiratory disorders." The patent was filed 2003 and will be a treatment for asthma. In 2004 Agennix received a SBIR (Small Business Innovative Research) grant from the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease. Agennix's strategic partners are Baylor College of Medicine (who helped create this company), John Hopkins, University of Texas, Avecia, DSM--maker of ARA oils for Martek Bioscience, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
What do these institutions and corporations know that the lactation profession seems to not know? Agennix's patent states, "lactoferin is an essential growth factor for both B & T lymnphocytes." Sounds like the definition of stem cells. Oh yes, I forgot that can't be because we just discovered that human milk has stem cells in it.
So the debate rages on. Meanwhile your friendly multi-national corporations continue to patent human milk components for a wide variety of diseases, cancers, and yes...allergies.
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

John S. O'Brien


John S. OBrien discovered the genetic cause of Tay-Sachs disease and developed the screening tests. He also was inventor to two patents regarding prosaposin. Prosaposin, according to the patent is in human milk, cerebrospinal fluid, and seminal plasma. Patent # 5700909 is called "Prosaposin and cytokine-derived peptides," and was filed in 1994. It is owned by The Regents of the University of California. He is co-inventor to another patent on prosaposin filed in 1995 but owned by Myelos Neuroscience Corporation. The 1994 patent states that, "Prosaposin increases nerve cell mylination ex vivo." This invention has "significant therapeutic applications in promoting functional recovery after toxic, traumatic, ischemic degenerative and inherited lesions to the peripheral and central nervous system." The patent also states that the invention has use as laboratory reagents and components of cell growth media in order to better enable growth of cells in vitro." Another substance in human milk that creates cell growth. Stem cells?? No, we didn't discovery stem cells until 2008.
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

Human Breast Epthelial Cells


photo by Mariah McClain
In patent # 5814511 they state, "most normal human breast epithelial cell cultures were derived either from lactational fluids, which contained cells primarily of luminal origin, or were derived from reduction mammoplasty." Dated in 1995, it was named "Human breast epithelial cell type with stem cell and luminal epithelial cell characteristics." The inventors are Chia Cheng Chang and James E. Trosko and the patent is owned by Michigan State University but the US Government has licensing rights since the research was from grants provided by the NIH. Hm....rather odd....I thought the fact that stem cells were in breastmilk was a recent discovery (Cregan 2008). I guess these authors never proved it????
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

Monday, May 12, 2008

GCSF Treatment...stem cell therapies


photo by Mariah McClain
Advertised on the internet are stem cell therapies that use Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) to stimulate patients bone marrow to produce the patients own stem cells.
G-CSF is a epidermal growth factor in human milk. In 1992, inventors Robert Burk and David Cox discussed this factor in their patent #5221734 called, "Process for preparing a polypeptide growth factor for milk," owned by Ciba Geigy. They state, "A Colony Stimulating Factor (CSF) which stimulates in vitro bone marrow cell proliferation and which causes differentiation of Colony Forming Granulocytic Macrophage pro-genitor cells has also been isloated from human milk. (Sinha, S.K. and Yunis, A. 1983)" and "The compositions of this invention promote cell migration and proliferation." Stem cells? Can't be because we didn't discover stem cells in human milk until 2008. In 1999 Darlene Calhoun et al from the University of Gailnesville, Florida, writes a paper for Pediatrics in which the conclusion is that, "Human milk contains substantial quantities of G-CSF." Human milk has this factor that stimulates bone marrow cell proliferation and this was known and isolated in 1983 from human milk.
So now that we absolutely, positively know that human milk has stem cells, are we going to change medical protocols that stop women from breastfeeding. Will hiv-positive women be encouraged to breastfeed? Their milk has stem cells in it. Or will we continue to deprive infants of the food that provides stem cells, and provides factors that stimulate the bone marrow production of cells?
I believe that Ciba Geigy is part of Novartis...in 1992 they had a pretty good idea that human milk had something important--growth factors in milk. Sixteen years ago a big corporation knew that human milk had a factor in it that stimulated bone marrow cell proliferation. How could this be???
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Good-bye Anonymous



photo by Jessie McClain

Anonymous has chosen to stay anonymous...and says good-bye. Of course I wonder who anonymous really is? An IBCLC in Australia, as she/he implies? an IBCLC in the USA? who? who?
Fascinating. Just to clear up some of the mistaken comments made by Anonymous, I am not aware that "my views on HIV were published in the JHL." Frankly that would seem highly unlikely. There was a group of us that signed a letter to the JHL on breastfeeding and hiv in August 2002 in regard to a paper by de Paoli et al. I believe all the signees to that letter were from AnotherLook. I wrote a letter to the BMJ on HIV in 2001. I think that letter in particular expresses my views.
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/322/7280/239/a

In that letter I write, "I think the belief that there is such a thing as safe formula feeding misleading." Rather odd statement for someone you state is anti-breastfeeding. I do admit to being out-of-date...at 56 I don't get many dates like I did when I was 18.

I am not sure why Anonymous paid to read the US Patent, anyone can read it without paying for it. One can't read a European patent for free, only the abstract is free. I didn't read the European patent, only the abstract.

Being Anonymous allows a person to be a fool without facing the consequences. At the very least, I have faced and continue to face the consequences openly and honestly. May your life be more peaceful than your words.

stem cells and staying Anonymous


photo by Jessie McClain
Anonymous sent two more comments and I feel that it is only fair that readers get a chance to read her/his viewpoint. I feel that if Anonymous wants to continue to have me post her/his comments that it only fair that this person disclose who they are and their credentials. I am troubled by Anonymous's belief that there is no need to read the whole patent or research paper, that an abstract tells the reader everything about the patent or paper. Unless academia has changed significantly since the early 70's when I went to college, I think admitting to reading only the abstract would not be thought of very highly. Abstracts do not tell the whole or even partial story. By the way there was 108 patents and 130 applications for patents, making a grand total of 238 patents/applications that could be read regarding stem cells and breastmilk. I read two of them in the past few days.
Yes I admit I did not read the paper written by Cregan. If Anonymous would be willing to pay the $30 for the paper, I'd be happy to read it and comment on it. Same goes for going to the ILCA Conference in Nevada this year. If Anonymous or someone in the lactation profession wants me to attend and is willing to pay my plane fare and hotel stay, I'd be happy to go and talk to Cregan. But since the lactation profession has had no interest in what I write about or say, I can't truly imagine them paying my way. Simply put, I cannot afford to buy all the books and documents I would like to read or conferences I would love to attend. Nor can I imagine that you, who consider me to be anti-breastfeeding, would want me to attend an ILCA Conference. I freely gave alot of information on my research to various breastfeeding organizations. I have no clue what they did with that information (other than one time they passed it on to people who worked in the US Government---a rather interesting scenario). I learned a hard lesson but information is the name of the game in power struggles in any organization. Giving away information to just anyone in an organization is a game that always backfires on the giver. Giving away information to an organization in which you don't know the political agenda is a mistake.
Anonymous states, "YOU SHOULD BE USING YOUR BLOG TO DEMONSTRATE WHY BREAST IS BEST RATHER THAN PLAYING INTO THE FORMULA COMPANIES HANDS WITH YOUR ANTI-BREAST MILK POINT OF VIEW."
I love being told what I should be doing with my blog....Is this the standard view of me? Amazing. anti-breastmilk? Time to fess up and tell us who you are.......somehow I don't think you will.
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

Mother's Day Wishes


photo by Jessie McClain

Mother's Day is a difficult time for many mothers. It is a wonderful, joyous time for those of us, when our children/adult children are with us to celebrate. But for many mothers whose children have died, disappeared, are not at home, are in another country, or worse are in a war zone, it can be a difficult day. It is a day of sadness, of lost joys, of memories good and bad. It can be a day of regret and a day of remorse. May all mothers find peace in our troubled world. May we treasure the moments we have or have had with our children. May we find the fortitude to go on in this world, despite the heartbreak. May we never feel lonely because we have been touched by our children born and unborn. May we reach out to others and share the love we learned by being mothers. Peace to all...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

stem cells by any other name


I made the assumption that "Anonymous," who questioned my take on the discovery of stem cells, was an honest criticism of my thoughts on this blog. I believe that critiques are good for the soul when done with honesty and the wish to find the "truth." It isn't easy to take criticism unless we realize the importance of getting down to the reality/to the truth of a given situation. I made the assumption that Anonymous had done a patent search and a literature search because Anonymous stated that as a fact for us, readers. Well, just on a hunch I did a "simple" search for patents and patent applications. There were 108 patents and 130 patent applications. Simple search, and I am to assume that Anonymous read all these and determined that none of these fit the criteria? I could not read that many patents in a few weeks (since the time Anonymous read my blog on stem cells). I have read patents that were only about 15 printed pages long but most are 30 pages or longer. Applications are much shorter, so one can breeze through them...most of the time. I spent some time yesterday looking at one or two of those patents (Stampfer's HMEC patent was one of the earliest patents on stem cells and human milk--1980's). There is a history of stem cell and human milk research that the lactation profession will be discounting, if they continue to believe that Mark Cregan "discovered" stem cells in human milk. In a way that dishonors the people who have done the basic research in the 70's, 80's, and 90's and now who are forgotten in a media blitz to proclaim something that has already been known for some time.
When I did a patent application search, I found that the US Patent Office has a patent application from Mark Cregan and Peter Hartmann called "Method for isloating cells from mammary secretion." Filed in June 2006. I won't say much about this application because I have already commented about their same patent at the European patent office in 2004. Although at the European patent office, one must pay to read the whole patent, so I didn't. The abstract is free. The comments to the announcement that stem cells are in human milk on the internet seem to be focused on "now we have an ethical way in which to collect stem cells." Whoa....stop, let's think about this. Certainly this is better then collecting stem cells from fetus's but the ethics of collecting it from human milk must be looked at carefully. Let's look at how the authors of this patent collected their human milk to make a patent application. Did women who donated to these researchers have an understanding of the intent of the research? Were they merely told that commercialization was a possibility with the research? And what does that mean? Does the study being done, reflect the purpose of the collection? What if your research is on one thing but you are collecting the milk for future research projects? What was done with the donated milk that wasn't used in this patenting? The value of this milk has just skyrocketed. Now the public knows it, will women so willing donate their milk? Or will a price war begin? It's going to be a challenge.
We are being asked to believe that this is new ground/a discovery. But there is evidence that this is not news to researchers in the field of mammary gland biology. This is just "news" for the public. The Gordon Conference on Mammary Gland Biology in 2002 had a whole section on stem cells. Who are the sponsors to this Conference who most likely sit in on these presentations? The pharmaceutical industry and it is worth noting one company in particular...Wyeth. It was Wyeth and PPL of Scotland that created Dolly (Dolly was created in part by a cell from a sheep's mammary gland). Wyeth has a good understanding of stem cells from mammary glands.
When we compartmentalize science, reduce it to its elements; we can easily be lead to believe that the organ, the tissue is separate from the cell which is separate from the secretion. But nature is not about separate elements. It is a complex matrix of interdependent elements. Reductionist thought creates separation when there is no separation.
There is a political need to sell the concept that stem cells in breastmilk is a "new discovery."
The media sells us a concept and we buy it because it is repeated and repeated. Who benefits from the belief? Some industries are off the hook because they can say we didn't know that human milk had stem cells. Milk banks can say they didn't know either. Anonymous seems to think that I made this magical leap because I mentioned stem cells in human milk in 2001. All I can do is shake my head. Are we going to erase the previous research in order to make it appear that no one knew there were stem cells in human milk? At one time on Lactnet, I wrote that there was a fire in them there hills (regarding the patenting of human milk components) and we needed to speak out (something like that). I wrote about the need to regulate human milk banking more stringently. Ignored and then the topic becomes forbidden (hide the problem). Then I got kicked off Lactnet. Simple solutions to problems you don't want to hear.
A simple solution to having a fire that you don't want to discuss, is to say there never was a fire. What fire? We didn't know about stem cells in human milk until 2008. What fire?
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

Friday, May 9, 2008

a dialogue on organs, glands, stem cells


(photo by Mariah McClain)
First, I do welcome comments to this blog from all perspectives. While I stated yesterday I was no longer willing to respond to the comments of Anonymous because I felt we were deadlocked, I have essentially changed my mind (I know somewhat fickle). Anonymous (sorry I don't know your name) continue to comment if you so desire. All comments are first read by me before they are posted. I post almost anything except I refuse comments that are essentially advertising. I think it is important to continue to discuss differences of opinion even though those differences may never be resolved.
My understanding of the recent comments by Anonymous is that the scientific literature had only proved that stem cells reside in the mammary gland, an organ, not the secretions-the milk.
Following that belief, that would mean that prior to Cregan's "discovery," scientists would have believed that this gland at the cellular level was different from its secretion. One would suppose that since stem cells reside in the organ that there is a barrier between the organ and its secretions. There are a number of ways that a gland secretes its fluids. The mammary gland according to Taber's Medical Dictionay secretes by a method called apocrine, "secretions form in the apical ends of cells, which breaks off and forms part of the secretion." There is documentation that the epithelial cells are sloughed off into human milk (1980's--Neville & Neifert). According to Neville et al., "Milk is produced by epithelial cells which line the mammary alveoli and is stored in the alveolar lumina adjacent to these cells." And repeating myself Lawrence states, "The epithelial cells of the gland contain stem cells..." Yet no one until recently believed that stem cells were in the milk?
Margaret Stampfer (who I have written about before) created the HMEC (Human Mammary Epithelial Cells) cell lines in the early 80's. She is the inventor to a patent on this cell line, and the US Government owns this patent. These cells lines are used because they have "immortality." Reading some of Stampfer's newsletters on her cell line, I read that she not only made the cell line from the mammary gland but also derived the cell line from human milk(because breastmilk contains epithelial cells). She observed the immortality (it's ability to continue to grow) of these cells. She recognized the value of such cells for research. From reading her newsletter, one can feel her enthusiasm and wish to freely share her research and even the cell lines to other researchers. HMEC cell lines are used to study toxins and its effect on the cells of the body. Researchers are still using HMEC cell lines (of course one has to buy them).
Let's fast forward to more recent times. I have an abstract dated 2005 entitled, "Towards the identification of stem cells in a novel human mammary epithelial culture (HMEC) system that reproducibly demonstrates ductal organotypic architecture in 3 weeks."
A scientific discovery is based on the previous work and thoughts of other scientists. Often scientists are working along the same lines of thought and it becomes a race to see who will bring evidence of discovery to society. When patents are involved, it may become a race to present before anyone else does. I have a very different view point regarding this discovery because I think stem cells in human milk were an understood concept that was not articulated publicly. It is the base knowledge of the 2000 + patents and pending patents on human milk components. The NIH wrote in the 90s that the "mammary gland was the protein factory of the future." Taking at face, what is a protein factory? Proteins are essential to "growth." Stem cells are about growth...immortality in a sense. It's all very poetic, if you think about it. The human mammary gland can be viewed as a fountain of youth. The mammary gland is the tree of life. Mothers have instinctively known this for thousand of years, but science is compelled to "discovery it" and "prove it."
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain
********************************************************
6/14/13----Noticed that this post was being read and reread the long comment by my friend anonymous.  I am not sure why I didn't respond in 2008--obviously irritated with Anonymous.  Found a corrected url for the above. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a458461.pdf

Thursday, May 8, 2008

a different perspective


(photo by Jessie McClain)
A new comment was posted by anonymous regarding my response to their comments. This is the last time I will comment regarding this topic since it is obvious that we are looking at this situation from different perspectives.
Anonymous states that,"there are many previous publications on stem cells in the breast, but these relate to the tissue of the breast itself, not the milk." My understanding of human milk is that it is considered a tissue. In fact milk banks in California and New York are required by law to be licensed tissue banks. (that may have changed since 2006). Blood is considered to be technically a tissue. Jan Riordan in the chapter of Biological Specificity of Breastmilk of Breastfeeding & Human Lactation writes that breastmilk is white blood..."indeed human milk is similiar to unstructured living tissue." Human milk is made up of cells and some of those cells--epithelial are sloughed off during lactation. Ruth Lawrence writes that the epithelial cells of the gland contain stem cells. So we are to believe that Ruth Lawrence never put two and two together? I cannot believe that someone with her extensive knowledge of the physiology of the breast would not have understood that stem cells are in the milk. It is written in this chapter as if it were common knowledge (1994)--no need to specifically reference it.
We have over 2000 human milk component patents and applications and we are to believe that this "knowing" that stem cells exist in human milk is new? The Pharm Woman Patent in 1987 owned by Baylor College of Medicine is about the knowledge that human lactoferrin stimulates the proliferation of the DNA in the gut of the newborn. Short gut syndrome is the result of artificial feeding. Breastmilk activates DNA that stimulates the growth of the intestine in the human newborn. What is that? Stem cells. They don't say stem cells because back then there was not this gold rush to create stem cells. The definition of stem cells is about effecting growth in cells--specifically and non-specific.
Patents are based on beliefs/research/faith. They are not sinister in itself. People have to make money. Making money from something you believe in is an absolute blessing. But with that blessing comes an obligation to let your audience know that you will be making money off those beliefs. In research it is an ethical obligation (whether you are a wonderful promoter of breastfeeding or not) to state that your view of your research might be effected by your monetary interests. No human being is devoid of biases. We protect scientific/medical research by having researchers publicly document financial biases. THIS IN NO WAY makes financial backing/patents in itself sinister. It does allow the public and other researchers interested in that research to fully evaluate the research.
On the other hand patents are about making a monopoly and about keeping information a secret. Anonymous and others in the lactation professional community believe that Mark Cregan "discovered" stem cells in human milk. In the article regarding this discovery there is a discussion of the therapies that can be used by human milk stem cells in the next 5 years. I am afraid there will be alot of patent litigation since alot of the huge multinational corporations already have a basic understanding that human milk contains stem cells (growth factors) and they own patents to the growth factors of human milk. Of course the gold rush isn't really over yet...but the secrecy of the value of human milk is gradually filtering out to the people.
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Response to anonymous regarding stem cells


There was an anonymous comment to my past blog post on "Stem Cells in Breastmilk....new discovery???" The commentor states that they did a literature search, a patent search, etc and found that Mark Cregan et al have been the only authors to publish that stem cells are present in breast milk (other than a commentary in JHL-2006).
Ruth Lawrence, author of Breastfeeding, Fourth Edition (1994) on page 78 under the topic of Synthesis of Human Milk, states, "The epithelial cells of the gland contain stem cells and highly differentiated secretory alveolar cells at the terminal ducts. The stem cells are stimulated by HGH and insulin." Human milk contains epithelial cells. Neville & Neifert in Lactation (1983) state, "the predominant cell type changes from leukocytes to sloughed epithelial cells which continue to be found in milk throughout lactation at a concentration of about ten to the fourth cells/ml." p.57
In an article about stem cells in the mammary gland at the NIH they state, "Stem cells are important medically both because of the risk they pose in carcinogenesis, and for the potential they offer for organ regeneration or replacement." Note that the mammary gland biology group from the NIH has as its symbol the statue of Romulus and Remus nursing the mother wolf.
In another review at the NIH regarding the Mammary Gland and stem cells the author Daniel Medina states: "totipotent stem cells exist throught out the mammary parenchyma tree and are not localized to just the terminal portions of the mammary tree."
The mammary tree is lined with epithelial cells (totipotent stem cells) that are sloughed off throughout lactation. This has been known for some time, just not publicly. If one looks at the literature from the NIH on stem cells and the mammary gland those studies are from the 80's and 90's. What I gather you are saying is that knowledge of stem cells was only related to information on stem cells in the mammary gland itself not the milk. I assume that Ruth Lawrence had an understanding in the 90's that human milk had stem cells but then maybe I am wrong in that assumption?
Since I have not been able to read Mark Cregan's research in Cell & Tissue Research (July 2007), I can only hope that under a conflict of interest statement (if they have one) he wrote about his patent. I do hope in his presentation to ILCA, he mentions that he has joint ownership in a patent.
If the lactation professional community wants to believe that Mark Cregan discovered that there were stem cells in breastmilk, then what more can I say at this point? People believe what they want to believe.
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

Thursday, May 1, 2008

"the child is not the mere creature of the State."


photo by Jessie McClain
The Supreme Court in 1925 in Pierce v. Society of Sisters established that "the child is not the mere creature of the State." In Texas, the foster care system seems to be at odds with that judgment. In fact it seems that the State has been influenced by such organizations as "Justice for Children." In statements in 2004 made to the the Texas House Committee on Child Welfare and Foster Care, this organization said, "family preservation and family reunification should not be the sole or even main means of treating and preventing child maltreatment." They called for support of legislation that "excempts certain cases from reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family."
One of the outcomes of this committee was a foster home recruitment program involving the faith-based communities. Texas has the Luthern Social Services of the South, Inc. (one of the largest child-placing contractors, managing over 600 foster homes); Baptist Child & Family Services; One Church, One Child of Texas; and the Catholic Charities among some private child welfare agencies managing foster care.
So when the mass round-up of women and children of the fundamentalist Mormon sect happened, Baptist Child & Family Services coordinated the meals and supplies for them. The Lutheran Social Servies of the South had offered beds for them. From an outsider this looks rather odd. Our country was founded on the principle of separation of church and state. Here is a State-separating Mormon women and children from each other and placing them in foster care run by various Christian religions. It appears that the Texas foster care program has a majority of Chrisitian churches involved in this program. While this maybe beneficial to all concerned, it would seem to me that this is a questionable practice when children of different faiths end up in foster care. One might question how influential are these Christian organizations in the foster care system?
In an article, "West Texas operation draws on lessons learned from hurricanes," in the Austin American-Stateman dated April 10, 2008, a Scott McCown, executive director of the center for Public Policy Priorities mentions that "there has been a recent drop in the number of children being removed from homes because of abuse..." The state had recently reduced investigators caseloads. Thank goodness, their caseloads had decreased because now they can handle all these children. I wonder if smaller caseloads mean less money available for programs?
To be a mere creature of the State, is to be like a tumbleweed, blown from here to there. And what be the reason for these motherless children? A State Reason: which is Texan for, "It's my way or the highway." Only this highway seems to be a little worn and mighty dangerous.
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain