Lots of bad news on the stem cell front recently - specifically the near confirmation that the Federally funded lines of embryonic stem cells are contaminated with mouse cells to the point of not being useful (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6604).
Still, good news is coming out. Researches have created motor nuerons out of embryonic stem cells.
The work is a step towards using embryonic stem cell-derived motor neurons to treat such conditions as spinal cord injuries and nervous system diseases such as Lou Gehrig's.
While such treatments may be many years away, the advance could sooner allow researchers to create motor neuron modeling systems to screen new drugs, says study leader Su-Chun Zhang of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
I wish the government would change their stance on Federal funding for this kind of research. It doesn't seem like the studies that they are funding have any chance of ever helping. At least California and other states are taking up the challenge and funding this important research.
Willful ignorance of science is not commendable. Refusing to learn the difference between a credible source and a shill is criminally stupid.
Gah, I hate to open up a can of worms, but I am woefully ignorant on the issue of stem cells. Without lots of arguing, can people here provide me good information on the hows of using stem cells, what they could be used for, the dangers, etc?
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For more detailed information you can check out this website (stemcells.nih.gov) and click on the FAQ.
Basically, stem cells are cells that have not yet become skin or muscle or nerves or what have you. They're blank slate cells. A stem cell has the capability of mutating into any other kind of human cell. For example, it could be possible to use stem cells to repair a severed spinal cord, or to halt or even reverse the condition of Parkinson's disease.
As far as dangers go, scientits are desperate to find out how to prevent rejection of the stem cells used in therapy, but that goes equally for any kind of tissue transplant.
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Originally posted by messenoirGah, I hate to open up a can of worms, but I am woefully ignorant on the issue of stem cells. Without lots of arguing, can people here provide me good information on the hows of using stem cells, what they could be used for, the dangers, etc?
I think the arguments Stilton made are somewhat accurate. I just point out that there are two kinds of Stem Cells: Adult and Embyonic. There are scientists that believe either can be effective and you have scientists on both side believing only one or the other could possibly be effective.
Many people also believe there is an ethical issue with the embyonic stem cells, because the only way you get them is to take an egg and fertilize it, then extract the cells and then dispose of the embryo. Many people, myself included, believe that life begins at conception and, thus, that is the killing of a human life. Therein lies the ethical issue. A number of years before President Bush came into office, the Feds funded some Stem Cell research, including embryonic. President Bush, along with the majority of the congress, believe that the ethical issue mentioned above is serious enough to not risk continuing that funding for additional lines of research. (existing lines were not affected.) It seems now that the existing lines were contaminated.
There's no restriction against private companies or grant agencies conducting said embyonic research and there is a fairly large federal funding for adult stem cell research.
I agree that a lot of the funding (and granted, I haven't had the chance to read up on this too much since the encouragement of research-based reading stopped at graduation) is pretty widespread and frivolous, but if they can build off of the questions they raise with the creation of motor neurons with heavily-funded research, that'd be some nice progress.
Take ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease. The degeneration of motor neurons and pathways leads to the muscle atrophy and the gradual loss of function associated with ALS. Creating motor neurons wouldn't be helpful here because the pathways and cortical motor neurons are being destroyed by the body itself. There's hypotheses about why this occurs, most of which are on a more genetic level if I'm remembering correctly. So, rhetorically, does the possibility exist that use of stem cells could be bypassed if genetic therapy is pursued? Or would the drugs created through these new motor neuron models enhance drug therapy to the point of providing a "cure" for ALS? It's all pretty interesting to think about where research could go from all of this, but because of the mouse cell contamination in the batches we have now, it's probably not likely that we'll soon get a chance to see much research on something like this.
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It looks like, at least in Illinois (cnn.com) that stem cell research may have suffered another legal setback.
Originally posted by CNNIn an opinion issued Friday, Cook County Judge Jeffrey Lawrence said "a pre-embryo is a 'human being' ... whether or not it is implanted in its mother's womb."...
In his ruling, Lawrence relied on the state's Wrongful Death Act, which allows lawsuits to be filed if unborn fetuses are killed in an accident or assault. "The state of gestation or development of a human being" does not preclude taking legal action, the act says.
Lawrence also cited an Illinois state law that says an "unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person."
"There is no doubt in the mind of the Illinois Legislature when life begins," Lawrence wrote.
While an appeal is imminent, it's either good or bad news, depending on your point of view.
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