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Embryo-safe stem-cells

 
 
yitwail
 
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2006 10:37 pm
Just off the AP by way of Yahoo news, a biotech company announced a technique for extracting stem cells from embryos without destroying the embryo. I could have posted this in Religion or Medical News, but I think politics will determine what comes of this development. It's hard to see how even ardent pro-life advocates can object to this technique of harvesting stem cells, but that remains to be seen.

By MATT CRENSON, AP National Writer
1 hour, 34 minutes ago



NEW YORK - In an innovative move, a biotech company has found a new way of making stem cells without destroying embryos, touting it as a way to defuse one of the country's fiercest political and ethical debates.

Some opponents of the research said the method still doesn't satisfy their objections and many stem cell scientists and their supporters called it inefficient and politically wrong-headed.

But a spokeswoman for President Bush, who vetoed legislation last month that would have allowed federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, called it a step in the right direction.

And Dr. Robert Lanza, an executive with Advanced Cell Technology, which created the new stem cell lines, said: "This will make it far more difficult to oppose this research."

Stem cells have become a Holy Grail for advocates of patients with a wide variety of illnesses because of the cells' potential to transform into any type of human tissue, perhaps leading to new treatments. But the Vatican, President Bush and others have argued that the promise of stem cells should not be realized at the expense of human life, even in its most nascent stages.

The new method works by taking an embryo at a very early stage of development and removing a single cell, which can be coaxed into spawning an embryonic stem cell line. With only one cell removed, the rest of the embryo retains its full potential for development.

The method was described online Wednesday in the British journal Nature. The journal published a similar paper by Advanced Cell Technology last year demonstrating the technique's viability in mice.

Link to the rest of the story
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kelticwizard
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2006 02:44 am
It's interesting but there are two things which should be noted:

A) Some researchers find that cells harvested slightly later-which would cause the destruction of the embryo-are in fact more useful to some kinds of research.

B) It is ridiculous that scientists have to waste time trying to jump through the hoops some religious groups set up. The embryos which the stem cells are taken from are on their way to the medical waste pile anyway. The time and effort spent trying to save these embryos should be used by these researchers to further medical research, not to satisfy Bush's nonscientific pet constituencies.
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Chai
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2006 05:01 am
Interesting Yitwail, I listened to a story about this on NPR yesterday.

It seems the idea came from the fact that couples who are having genetic testing done will have a cell removed at at early stage (the 8 or 10 cell stage) to be checked for genetic problems, and the remaining cells will continue to develope normally.

One thing though, if one cell is removed and put in a dish, it is "lonely" and doesn't know it's supposed to develope into anything. It must be put in a dish with other stem cells so it will "know" how to develope.



I agree it is jumping through hoops. However, if it allows further research and utilization of stem cells, saving lives. I say go for it.
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yitwail
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Aug, 2006 06:59 am
agree with the jumping through hoops comment, and the yahoo article does point out what kelt wiz noted, that some researchers feel cells harvested later are more effective. still, that's preferable to the status quo, which is existing cell lines that are basically unusable--i forget the details, but they were cultured with rat cells, or something like that, which causes them to get rejected by the immune system when transferred to humans. of course, it's academic if the White House *decider* rejects this new approach.
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Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 08:20 pm
What you are refereing to only applies to research with federal funding. It doesn't apply to private funding.
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yitwail
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 10:44 pm
that's right, Baldimo, and currently the NIH funds about $600 million per year in stem cell research, of which only $40 or so involves human embryonic stem cells--altogether a tiny fraction of federal grants for medical research. however, if the new techniques lower or remove ethical barriers to research, then the funding levels might increase significantly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell_controversy#Current_State_of_Federal_Funding_for_hESC_Research_in_the_USA
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Ray
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 11:01 pm
I hear Bush may not be against this.
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Aug, 2006 05:08 am
yitwail wrote:
that's right, Baldimo, and currently the NIH funds about $600 million per year in stem cell research, of which only $40 or so involves human embryonic stem cells--altogether a tiny fraction of federal grants for medical research. however, if the new techniques lower or remove ethical barriers to research, then the funding levels might increase significantly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell_controversy#Current_State_of_Federal_Funding_for_hESC_Research_in_the_USA


I would support this as long as the process works as well as they say it does. I honestly don't have an issue with supporting the funding either way they get the stem cells.
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