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Safe Stem Cells Produced From Adult Cells

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the spare-parts dept.

Medicine 207

hackingbear writes "Wired, citing a paper published in Science magazine, reports that Harvard scientists may have found a safer way of giving a flake of skin the biologically alchemical powers of embryonic stem cells by turning adult cells into versatile, embryonic-like cells without causing permanent damage. The technique involves 'adding cell-reprogramming genes to adenoviruses, a type of virus that infects cells without affecting their DNA.' Four-month trials on mice demonstrated that the resulting stem cells are free from unpredictable cancer-inducing mutations. This is definitely a breakthrough in stem cell research." Additional coverage is available at Yahoo, and Science hosts the research paper, although you'll need a subscription to see more than the abstract.

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Further Research (1)

giantweevil (1216540) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184925)

We need to find a short blond kid missing an arm and leg.

It's the only way we'll ever get any farther.

Re:Further Research (3, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185061)

...missing an arm and leg.

Did he need to pay for gas?

Re:Further Research (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185151)

Or someone that needs a liver, or heart, or something else. Somehow, they'll find lab animals in this kind of need. But you're right, that's the next step into perfecting the 'grow a new organ' process. Hopefully they get it right soon. I look forward to being able to rely on that in the future.

Re:Further Research (0, Flamebait)

sveard (1076275) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186069)

I look forward to being able to rely on that in the future.

You're planning on becoming an alcoholic and destroying your liver?!

Re:Further Research (4, Funny)

Thaddeaus (777809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186121)

I wasn't, but now that you mention it....

Re:Further Research (4, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186343)

"We need to find a short blond kid missing an arm and leg."

Or make one.

Hmmmm (2, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184937)

involves 'adding cell-reprogramming genes to adenoviruses

This is obviously a variation of the word 'safe' that I wasn't previously aware of.

Re:Hmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184981)

The whole point of the article was to say that they've done a lot of tests on this method and found it to be safe, not that the method has been discovered and tried out.

Re:Hmmmm (1)

linforcer (923749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185083)

Yeah, it's an unpredictable cancer-inducing mutation of the original variation of "safe".

Re:Hmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185299)

This is obviously a variation of the word 'safe' that I wasn't previously aware of.

I agree and if Douglas Adams [quotationspage.com] was alive, I am sure he'd agree too.

You should try citing your sources. It would add integrity to your post, regardless of your initial intent.

Re:Hmmmm (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185389)

Whoah relax guy - I actually prefer uncited references for cases like that. Citing cultural/literary references is like explaining the punchline of a joke right after you tell it. It's a secret handshake. It's not like he's ripping off material.

'"I know I should have taken the blue pill!1!" --- this is a quote from neo from the matrix.'
^^ annoying.

I think you're making much ado about nothing (Shakespeare)...

Re:Hmmmm (-1, Flamebait)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185827)

"safe" in this context means
"it sounds so scary that nobody will accept the possibility of it happening therefore we've won" - the republicans.

Re:Hmmmm (4, Informative)

Sox2 (785958) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186071)

try not to be too scared every time the word virus is mentioned. Viruses help as well as harm. There is very good evidence that viruses (and viral originated elements retained in these hosts) have shaped the structure and content of the genomes of many creatures (humans included) in positive ways: http://genome.cshlp.org/cgi/content/full/15/8/1073 [cshlp.org]

Adenovirus are in some way more benign given the lack direct integration into the host genome.

the released paper by Konrad's group is pretty interesting, albeit more of a technical accomplishment than a new paradigm shift.

Only on mice, for now (0)

WDot (1286728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184943)

TFA states that this new technique has only been tested on mice so far, although I truly hope that they can get this working for humans. Here's hoping that we can do effective stem cell research without the controversy.

Re:Only on mice, for now (5, Interesting)

Znork (31774) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185205)

Instead we're faced with the new controversy that every skin cell you shed can be considered an embryo that, with the correct application of medical science, can now become a child.

Scratching yourself will now mean you're killing babies!

Or, perhaps you're trying to create an evil clone army with all those cells?

There's plenty of material and interpretations for anyone who wants to find controversy.

Re:Only on mice, for now (1)

Henk Poley (308046) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185223)

Is that you, Sam Harris?

Re:Only on mice, for now (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185393)

Instead we're faced with the new controversy that every skin cell you shed can be considered an embryo that, with the correct application of medical science, can now become a child.

Scratching yourself will now mean you're killing babies!

I already kill half embryos that could become human children quite often, what's wrong with killing whole ones?

Re:Only on mice, for now (4, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185691)

Instead we're faced with the new controversy that every skin cell you shed can be considered an embryo that, with the correct application of medical science, can now become a child.

Exfoliation is MURDER!!!

Re:Only on mice, for now (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185933)

Nonono, it's gene-nocide now :).

Re:Only on mice, for now (2)

eabrek (880144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186443)

The consideration isn't the "potential to become a child". It's a question of unique human lives.

An embryo is a unique human life (with a form of asexual reproduction - twinning).

Then, the question becomes, are our rights intrinsic (inherent in what we are) or extrinsic (applied by others based on our value).

My worry is that human rights are currently extrinsic...

Re:Only on mice, for now (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186653)

My worry is that human rights are currently extrinsic...

The Socialists need you to believe that to undo the United States of America as conceived in 1776/1789 - that one is based on intrinsic or natural rights.

Re:Only on mice, for now (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186507)

Or, perhaps you're trying to create an evil clone army with all those cells?

What happens if I'M the evil clone?

Your body, you pay. (1, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186527)

Of course, the right wing retort to this strawman assault would be to say

"Your body, you pay."

If you want to have the right to choose, then you ought to pay for your own medical care.

If it is your body, then you are reasonably responsible for your own sexual education and you don't need our tax money to pay for you to learn how to screw.

If you want the public to pay for your well being, then you are by definition a pet of the people at large, and conservatives have as much a right to your body at that point as you do.

Do remember that George Bush has done what he did by essentially using powers the left wing granted to itself in government for right wing ends. If you put the government in charge of health care, just imagine a future Bush deciding what the government should in fact pay for.

Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184967)

This will end the debate on stem cells.

Re:Hopefully (1)

giantweevil (1216540) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184993)

Well, if Obama gets elected, we probably won't need this to end it.

However, if McCain gets elected, he might somehow construe this to be unethical or wrong.

It's really too much to hope for this to get finalized before the election.

Re:Hopefully (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185137)

Bullshit. We were right all along. Admit it.

Embryonic stem cell research was never needed, and has yielded no cures for anything.

Re:Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185469)

Embryonic stem cell research was never needed, and has yielded no cures for anything.

Your idea on what constitutes science seems interesting. I want to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185523)

Before you shoot off your mouth to much you might want to check what the Chinese are accomplishing with embroynic stem cells. Heh, Harvard and U of W are from the USA. Chinese technology gets even more ignored than U of W.

Re:Hopefully (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186623)

Bullshit. We were right all along. Admit it.

Embryonic stem cell research was never needed, and has yielded no cures for anything.

Yeah, because adding a dozen or so steps to the front end of a process involving stem cells makes things SOOOOOOOO much easier, simpler, and cheaper than using harvested embryonic stem cells.

Re:Hopefully (2, Informative)

Sox2 (785958) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186699)

without embryonic stem cells the process for making these induced pluripotency cells would never have been discovered.
The genes required for such reprogramming are intimately involved in the mechanisms that embryonic stem cells use to maintain their phenotype. Indeed without the extensive studies that have gone on in both human and mouse ES cells we would be completely ignorant about the roles of these genes.

A little research will make you sound a whole less ignorant.

Re:Hopefully (5, Insightful)

CautionaryX (1061226) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185187)

Conservatives have no problem with stem-cell research. The problem is when the stem cells are harvested from a human embryo - during the process we end a human life. The main question about embryonic stem-cells was 'Is it right to kill a human being to potentially save other lives?' With this new breakthrough, it could be possible to save many lives without killing a potential human life.

Re:Hopefully (1)

distilledprodigy (946341) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185277)

Wait... Someone on slashdot not jumping on the "bash conservatives" bandwagon? And you're not AC? The only problem with your argument (though I don't believe this) is that many people believe "Human Life" doesn't begin until after the state that embryo's are harvested.

Re:Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185371)

qUeerBaIt

Re:Hopefully (5, Informative)

aikodude (734998) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185601)

many people believe "Human Life" doesn't begin until after the state that embryo's are harvested.

yes, but this new discovery neatly side- steps that problem.

and for those above who say that McCain will find some way to construe it as unethical, the pope has said that adult stem cell research is fine. Pope endorses adult stem-cell research (catholicnews.com) [catholicnews.com] If the pope is good with it, i don't see any elected official having a problem with it.

"The possibilities opened up by this new chapter in research are in themselves fascinating" because adult stem-cell studies have pointed to actual and potential cures of degenerative diseases that would otherwise lead to disabilities or death, the pope said at an audience for participants attending a Vatican-sponsored congress on stem-cell therapy.

Re:Hopefully (1, Informative)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186253)

The Pope also says that evolution and the Bible are not at odds. Many politicians claim to disagree. The Pope also says that abortion is wrong. Joe Biden (candidate for the Office of the Vice President of the United States, and a Catholic, even) disagrees.

Re:Hopefully (1)

Tenek (738297) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185813)

I don't see why many people wouldn't believe that. The alternative sounds a tad ridiculous on paper - a clump of 100 cells is not going to be equal to an adult human, or an adult mosquito for that matter. There's more to (significant) life than having human DNA, unless you want to consider a vial of your own blood to be a separate person. The only 'problem' with stem cell research is that people are only too happy to outsource their thinking to a guy with a special hat.

Re:Hopefully (3, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185405)

Nobody is aborting foetuses simply to get stem cells. They're taking cells from foetuses who are *already* aborted and whose usefulness is otherwise to merely be thrown in the trash.

Your 'main question' is a complete strawman - we don't even harvest organs from executed prisoners even though that would save a lot of lives, because that question was asked and answered year ago.
 

Re:Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185743)

I think that abortion is a choice that women will have regardless. I think that profiteering off of it should be illegal, and that the aborted babies should be destroyed, not used for research of any kind.

Re:Hopefully (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25186021)

You're going to have to give us a reason why you think they should be destroyed if you want anybody to change their mind, dude.

Re:Hopefully (0)

peektwice (726616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185803)

There is no straw-man argument here. If you rob a bank, and give the money to charity, it doesn't make robbing a bank any more right even if the money does some real good. It is still considered ill-gotten gains.

Re:Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185975)

OK, fine. Your main point is that "I think abortion is wrong, so using the stem sells from aborted fetuses is also wrong." Well, consider that in the US abortion is legal. People are going to have abortions, and the fetuses will be thrown in the trash. So why not use them for something good, instead of just throwing them away? The abortion debate is a completely separate issue. It is allowed by law in the US for now and you have to accept this fact in order to even participate intelligently in this conversation (though nobody is asking you to like it).

Re:Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25186133)

BTW I'm a socially liberal student goin into the field of microbiology, so I might be somewhat biased.

You're right, there is no argument here. Just not in the way you thought.

Your example would be more accurate if the bank had decided that it couldn't carry any more money in its vault, and threw it out into the dumpster. It isn't going to be useful if it just gets thrown out, and there are a lot of people who could benefit from it.

Besides, it's not like having an abortion is anything like robbing a bank. Having an abortion is something that can be used (and is, in most cases) to prevent a child from coming into an unhealthy home, or can prevent the mother from dying, or can help in some part to prevent our massive overpopulation problem. I'm sure there are a few women who use it as a contraceptive, but it's a rather invasive procedure and I doubt most women would willingly go through it instead of simply taking a daily pill.

Finally, I don't have a uterus and therefore can't make a decision that will never affect me. Do you?

Re:Hopefully (1)

Archades54 (925582) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186347)

The money wasn't in a bank, but was made via a mint for production but was later decided to not be needed and thus thrown out, so they took that money and gave to charity.(disregard economy difference of more money as this is just a proper look on your analogy. Basically it's GOING to be binned, or saved and put to a decent use. If it's gonna happen why not just let it turn into stem cell lines for research or heal someone.

Re:Hopefully (4, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185947)

Nobody is aborting foetuses simply to get stem cells. They're taking cells from foetuses who are *already* aborted and whose usefulness is otherwise to merely be thrown in the trash.

Your 'main question' is a complete strawman - we don't even harvest organs from executed prisoners even though that would save a lot of lives, because that question was asked and answered year ago.

Uh, no. They are taking embryo's from fertility clinics, not abortiong clinics. You see, when a couple goes to a fertility clinic, the clinic will fertilize multiple eggs. This is because it is so expensive, may as well do several per shot. When the couple conceives, divorces or whatever, the remaining embryos are discarded. These are the embryos that are donated for science research.

The problem some have this is that the fertilized eggs are put in a culture and manipulated to divide, thus becoming an embryo and no longer a "zygote". Stem cells are extracted from this embryo, killing it in the process.

Re:Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25186227)

Regardless of whether you're pro-life or pro-choice, the best solution to dealing with unwanted pregnancies is to prevent them in the first place. If we (as a society) allow fetuses to be harvested in order to suit some sort of "greater good" would the same level of effort be put towards preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place?

Completly agree. (1)

ztcamper (1051960) | more than 5 years ago | (#25187319)

People don't do research on embryos because they are evil sick fucks who eat dead babies (or at least most of them I presume). They do it to advance biochemistry. Once knowledge of subject advances enough, embryos will become unnecessary. Creation of adult stem cells can be seen as at least part of the solution. I don't think we are anywhere near the territory of implanting sea slugs into the brains of little girls. Instead of pulling on a bad tooth why not just yank it out? It has to come out one way or another.

Re:Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185413)

The problem is when the stem cells are harvested from a human embryo - during the process we end a human life. The main question about embryonic stem-cells was 'Is it right to kill a human being to potentially save other lives?'

Don't leave out the most important part - the disagreement about whether an embryo is a human being.

Personally, I don't think it is... any more than a blueprint and a pile of lumber is a house.

Re:Hopefully (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185429)

Hopefully we can end religion in the next 50 years and end these times of humans being transcendent compared to animals. Killing a human is no different than killing an animal, and both are completely without consequence no mater what the reason

Re:Hopefully (4, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185607)

>...With this new breakthrough, it could be possible to save many lives without killing a potential human life.

Yep, all those unneeded fertilized embryos now go straight to the incinerator, no stop for any life-saving harvesting in between.

Re:Hopefully (2, Insightful)

baKanale (830108) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185639)

The main question about embryonic stem-cells was 'Is it right to kill a human being to potentially save other lives?'

There's also another, broader question, which last I heard nobody quite agrees on, namely "Is an undifferentiated ball of cells a human being?". If the answer is "no", then it sidesteps your question entirely. It doesn't seem entirely proper to debate that question, in relation to this issue, when there's broad division on whether we even need to answer it.

Re:Hopefully (3, Informative)

andruk (1132557) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186303)

In my humble opinion, I don't know whether or not a small clump of cells should be considered human life (has to be a "small" clump of cells because humans are just a big clump of walking, talking cells in the first place).

I become concerned when people say that if we don't know if its a life or not, then we should treat it as dead to help the unambiguously alive. I would disagree with that, and I think that's what Bush meant when he said America should be a "culture of life" not a "culture of death" forever ago (don't worry, that's the only thing I actually appreciate about Bush). If we don't know whether or not a clump of cells is a life, we need to save those cells (except in the case of the health of the mother vs. health of clump of cells) until we know whether or not it is a human life or not. We need to play it safe if it might be a human life.

So, then it becomes a question of philosophy, what is a/the logical definition of life? This is, as you correctly identified, the crux of the matter. The problem is that a lot of conservatives like to define life as broadly as possible, so as somebody else stated, a vial of blood becomes a separate life. On the other hand, I've known a minority of liberals to define life as being severed from all other biological human interaction, which would make everything up to partial birth abortion perfectly acceptable.

My take, and as I stated before, I don't know for sure, is that life begins when it starts to incubate, which, imho, is when it implants into the wall of the uterus. This would make almost all contraceptives legal. I also think that the government doesn't need to dictate medical practices to a doctor, so the doctor will simply have to make the best decision he/she can at the time given the available information. Those decisions would be subject to a medical board if somebody second guesses the doctor, much like it is now.

Re:Hopefully (0, Flamebait)

Azuma Hazuki (955769) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185685)

Normally I am almost always opposed to the "conservative" view point on just about everything, but I happen to agree with them on this; there is no need to use embryos for stem cells if we can make this work.

That said, I'm not sure I consider the surplus embryos that would just be thrown out anyway humans...at least, no more human than the developed, living, breathing people who get shafted by "conservative" policies in the main every day...

Re:Hopefully (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186199)

It's not really a debate between life and death, it's "do we put its remains to good use or do we just throw them in the trash" because the cells are taken from surplus embryos during an artificial insemination which are going to die anyway (in the process lots of embryos are created because it's likely that the injection will fail to some degree and they want to make sure they get a healthy embryo to implant). Kinda like arguing that involuntary organ donations (not the Monty Python kind) kill people when the organs are only taken from bodies that are dead anyway but still have usable parts.

Re:Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25186449)

The problem is when the stem cells are harvested from a human embryo - during the process we end a human life.

Not quite: when destroying an embryo one ends the potential for a human life. In much the same manner, a man ends the potential for a human life any time he masturbates, uses birth control, or has a wet-dream; and a woman ends the potential for a human life every menstrual cycle.

Until nerve cells form there is a 0% chance that the blob of cells is sentient, and until that point it is not a human.

Re:Hopefully (1)

wormBait (1358529) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185221)

Only if it eventually works in humans. Just because it works for four months in mice doesn't mean much for humans. Great breakthrough, but still years and years from use on humans. Embryonic stem cells might still be a vital part of research in the meantime or in the end.

already done by the University of Wisconsin (4, Informative)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184971)

Embryonic stem cells were first isolated in humans by Dr. James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin in 1997. Last year, he also published a paper on getting adult stem cells to act like embryonic stem cells: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071120092709.htm [sciencedaily.com]

Wisconsin has and licenses most of the original embryonic stem cell lines that are approved for federal funding. Of course the popular press will cling to anything done by "Harvard".

Re:already done by the University of Wisconsin (1)

spaes (1374033) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185107)

The methods described in this article are safer and quite different. I agree that WIRED is wrong in making it appear that nothing like this has been done in a decade, but this is a significant find and not just redundant work. Articles related to stem cell research, and especially those published in Science, often receive press regardless of which institution did the research - I don't think the coverage is because it's from Harvard.

Re: you wish. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25186509)

Your title is wrong. This was NOT already done by the UW.

Also, your content is wrong. Thomson did NOT use adult stem cells -- his lab reprogrammed adult *skin* cells.
(That fact is even in the title of your linked story!)

Thomson used retroviral infection, as did the Yamanaka lab in Japan that did similar experiments around the same time. The Harvard lab used adenoviruses, a different vector with different outcomes.

The a major difference between retrovirus and adenovirus? Retroviruses can get the target genes inserted into eukaryotic chromosomes, making the changes more stable. But adenoviruses can be less harmful to the cells they infect, and can successfully infect more cells per treatment.
e.g. http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v18/n2/full/nbt0200_150.html [nature.com]

Re:already done by the University of Wisconsin (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186685)

Of course the popular press will cling to anything done by "Harvard".

Yeah, duh, Harvard studies more than better ways to make cheese.

Re:already done by the University of Wisconsin (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25187013)

You are misinformed.

First, the novelty of the current paper lies in using adenoviral vectors that do not integrate into the genome. Thomson used lentiviral vectors to deliver his transgenes.... a technique that will never generate cells with clinical utility.

Second, this general reprogramming approach was first accomplished by Yamanaka in Japan. Thomson is a hack who's trying to get credit and patents for ideas based on someone else's prior art.

you wish. (1)

knick knock (1374153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25187089)

Your title is wrong. This was NOT already done by the UW. Also, your content is wrong. Thomson did NOT use adult stem cells -- his lab reprogrammed adult *skin* cells. (That fact is even in the title of your linked story!) Thomson used retroviral infection, as did the Yamanaka lab in Japan that did similar experiments around the same time. The Harvard lab used adenoviruses, a different vector with different outcomes. The major difference between retrovirus and adenovirus? Retroviruses can get the target genes inserted into eukaryotic chromosomes, making the changes more stable. But adenoviruses can be less harmful to the cells they infect, and can successfully infect more cells per treatment. e.g. http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v18/n2/full/nbt0200_150.html [nature.com] [nature.com]

Doesn't matter (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184985)

The timers on cells cannot be reset. These are older cells. You can attempt to use them for repairs, what-not. But they will never be the same as actual stem cells.

Also not sure how good a thing it is for researchers to be making viruses with gene-altering payloads that target humans. Things could go spectacularly wrong.

The whole you-cannot-use-stem-cells malarkey is just like PETA saying Ben & Jerrys should use human breast milk instead of cows milk. You know, you use the right tool for the job. Not something else because a book of fairy tales says so. (And it doesn't.)

Re:Doesn't matter (-1, Flamebait)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185115)

I don't get why embryonic stem cells are so 'evil'. The little bastard's already dead; it's RECYCLING!!!

As to the 'book of fairy tales' telling them it's bad, look at the preachers. They claim things like "you examining your faith is the DEVIL!!" and "Only Christians are moral!" Is it really so far-fetched that they would also claim, to their non-bible-reading congregation, that the bible says stem cells are bad?

Also, on a side note: People who act like Israel has some right to their land, and that the Palestinians have no right to that land (ie, just a bunch of whiny bitches who want to take their land by force) really piss me off. According to the bible, which is what they claim to be 'divine proof' that that land belongs ONLY to Israel, the jews TOOK the land from the Palestinians! So grow up, get over it, your pet country doesn't have an intrinsic 'first post!' right to exist.

Re:Doesn't matter (0, Flamebait)

The Monster (227884) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185175)

I don't get why embryonic stem cells are so 'evil'. The little bastard's already dead; it's RECYCLING!!!

What do you think of the Chinese practice of executing prisoners with a bullet to the head, so that no vital organs are damaged, allowing them to be transplanted to faithful Party hacks, or people willing to pony up the money for them? Would you be cool with the US government doing the same thing? After all, the guy's going to be killed anyway; It's RECYCLING!!!111eleventy

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185257)

What do you think of the Chinese practice of executing prisoners with a bullet to the head, so that no vital organs are damaged, allowing them to be transplanted to faithful Party hacks, or people willing to pony up the money for them? Would you be cool with the US government doing the same thing?

Yes.

Re:Doesn't matter (4, Interesting)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185341)

As someone who considers "humane killing" an oxymoron of the first degree, I'm fine with the idea. The person being killed probably doesn't care much whether he's injected with a lethal poison or shot in the head. The person needing a transplant, on the other hand, cares very much about living a normal life.

Similarly, the embryos are already being created and destroyed en masse by fertility clinics. (And yet, for some reason, pro-lifers never complain about that.) Does the embryo care whether it's grown into organ tissue or thrown in the trash? Does a person suffering from a degenerative disease care about a cure?

You're my density! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185419)

"Similarly, the embryos are already being created and destroyed en masse by fertility clinics. (And yet, for some reason, pro-lifers never complain about that.) "

You're kidding, right? You're seriously trying to claim the anti-abortion crowd doesn't complain about... abortion! Wow....

The point you so studiously ignored is that many people find it sickening to create a life for the purpose of destroying it.

As far as the orgran transplants in China goes, maybe you're unaware of the moral hazard of having a system where some powerless peasant with healthy organs can be jailed and subsequently executed by an oppressive state to harvest their body for some politician or powerful business figure.

Re:You're my density! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25186417)

You're kidding, right? You're seriously trying to claim the anti-abortion crowd doesn't complain about... abortion! Wow....

Off topic but anyway. The grandparent is claiming that the fertility clinics are killing embryos that are "created" during the in vitro fertilization not during abortion. Check this in vitro fertilization stats [advancedfertility.com] and you will see that for every artificially fertilized child born there was many embryos that just didn't make it to the end. And probably there are many embryos waiting frozen in case the pregnancy goes wrong. If you have 4 in vitro embryos and the first pregnancy results in a child and parents decide that one child is enough, what do you? You discard the other embryos.

I wonder if the number of these embryos is not higher than the number of abortions.

Re:Doesn't matter (2, Insightful)

The Monster (227884) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185485)

The person being killed probably doesn't care much whether he's injected with a lethal poison or shot in the head. The person needing a transplant, on the other hand, cares very much about living a normal life.

Don't you see how this practice encourages the killing to be done in the first place?

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186515)

Don't you see how this practice encourages the killing to be done in the first place?

It only encourages it if the person authorizing it has something to gain. If your legislators and judges are reaping profits from convictions, your legal system is broken.

To prevent a conflict of interest in stem cell research, require that the fertility clinic not be paid for the embryos, or be reimbursed for the extra handling involved only, and forbid stem cell research companies from operating their own fertility clinics. In other words, if you make the commercial production of embryos unprofitable, the problem solves itself.

Re:Doesn't matter (5, Insightful)

Artraze (600366) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185579)

It's not too far unlike the the reason why labor laws generally do not allow you to opt-out (minimum wage, lunch, etc). While it is understandable that workers may want to on their own accord, it becomes extremely difficult to prove that they weren't encouraged to by their employer.

Similarly, if we're allowed to harvest organ from people we killed on purpose, how can we be sure that the person was killed for legitimate reasons? So we look to legislation to minimize any positive side effects to a person's death.

And likewise, while embryos might not count as human life, they are human. By allowing people to harvest stem cells from them, you are putting utility in destroying human could-be-life. The end result is not awfully far from _farming_ human could-be-life since, as above, proving things like 'abandoned' is difficult. This doesn't sit well with a lot of people, and especially so with those that view embryos are full fledged human life.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186375)

Embryos count neither as human life or human beings. They are clumps of undifferentiated stem cells. You don't need to farm them. You can grow one line into a massive number of cells with very little effort. The greater problem is that they are genetically different from you and could be recognized by your body as a foreign invader.

One of the promises of iPC is that if we grow an organ with it, it's a real cure rather than 5-10year stopgap like most of our organ transplants tend to be.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Transcendz (955938) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186189)

Is life all about "caring" about something ? Who cares about how you die and if you suffer ? When does this "care" feeling come to you conscience ? These ethical questions shouldn't be resolved that childish way.

How do you know? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186535)

The person being killed probably doesn't care much whether he's injected with a lethal poison or shot in the head

It's not like we could ask Jack Kennedy what he thought in the moments where his heart was still beating as they hauled him off to Parkland.

Re:Doesn't matter (2, Interesting)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185941)

> What do you think of the Chinese practice of executing prisoners with a bullet to the head, so that no vital organs are damaged, allowing them to be transplanted to faithful Party hacks, or people willing to pony up the money for them? Would you be cool with the US government doing the same thing? After all, the guy's going to be killed anyway; It's RECYCLING!!!111eleventy

I don't live in the US so I really don't care either way, but if a criminal who has been sentenced to death is willing to donate his organs, by all means kill him in a way that does not damage the organs. The problem is that when a criminal admits he is willing to donate organs, a jury might be more willing to say he's guilty, especially if they have friends or family who need a new organ... if you know a suspected murderers organs might save your sick child, your 'reasonable doubt' might be less than impressive.

Best avoid situations where people have something to gain by sentencing people to death.

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25186281)

Best avoid the death "penalty" altogether.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186377)

I don't support it, but if ones country insists on using it (mine doesn't) one might as well harvest organs.

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25186235)

I don't know about you, but I count the brain as a vital organ :D

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25187073)

I suppose the Chinese have proved the brain is a vital organ...

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Josue.Boyd (1007859) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185283)

The little bastard's already dead; it's RECYCLING!!!

its not like recycling....its more like buying a 24-pack of mgd....dumping the beer down the drain, and then putting the cans into the recycle bin..
You have to end a life to be able to 'harvest' the cells that could one-day be used to come up with a cure...potentially!!
keep the life, cures will come.
infanticide will be our greatest downfall

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185963)

> infanticide will be our greatest downfall

Elaborate.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186165)

Two words: "Social Security."

It doesn't matter how much money is in the "trust fund" If there aren't enough people to pay to do the work, anyway.

Re:Doesn't matter (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185991)

No, not necessarily. Aborted foetuses, and stem cells from umbilical cords, could easily be harvested and cultured. Cultured stem cells work just fine for implant tests, so far. There is _no_ need to harvest living for the stem cell work, even if the transplants are of physically significant volumes of cells. Cultures of such morally harvested single stem cell lines can easily serve hundreds if not millions of recipients.

Your ignorance of the biology is exactly why stem cell funding is so difficult to obtain: people hear the phrase and tar it with the brush of harvesting children's bodies, which it can be, in fact, mere recycling of discarded tissue samples.

Re:Doesn't matter (2, Insightful)

zkiwi34 (974563) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185287)

In case it has escaped your notice, they weren't dead to start with. As in the embryo was alive, before it was killed and as you put it "recycled." I'm sure you'd like to be "recycled" (as in killed) to benefit someone else, perhaps a preacher, perhaps someone from Israel. Or is it that you don't give a hoot about anyone else but yourself?

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185369)

All you people who complain that this is 'killing babies' etc. forget that most of these embryos come from abortion clinics and would otherwise end up in the dumpster. By extracting stem cells from them, they can be of some use to other people instead of just being thrown away on some holier-than-thou grounds.

Re:Doesn't matter (2, Interesting)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185551)

How about an analogy:
There is a story of a man who was very attached to his dog, and brought the dog everywhere. One day he went into an east-asian restaurant- as he sat down he told the waiter to take care of his dog. The waiter asked if he wanted the special, and the man agreed. A while later, the man received and ate a dish he enjoyed more than anything he had ever eaten, and after he was finished, he asked the waiter about his dog. The waiter was confused, as the dog was the special the man just ate.
If the man was told what he was eating as he was served the meal, would it make sense for him to refuse to eat it? If you are offered treatment that involved destroying a human life, would it make sense to be opposed to the treatment? Obviously, since the man's best friend is already dead, the man may as well go ahead and eat and enjoy it guilt free...

The difference is the man knew the dog very well, but the embryo isn't something you can relate to very readily- somehow because the embryo doesn't look human, it becomes justifiable to ignore any meaning of its existence as a living being. I am sure there are children out there who were once embryos frozen in a facility somewhere and then adopted (those embryos are the ones that are used for stem cell lines)- if a heartless scientist killed one of those children in the name of science, then offered to restore your ability to walk by harvesting stem cells from the child, you should be disgusted at the proposition. Same goes for gaining from the destruction of an embryo.

Re:Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25186545)

For you [youtube.com] , my friend.

Let the debate begin (who cares about the science) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185037)

I can't wait to see how the radical pro-lifers (and their opponents, the pro-embryo-vivisectioners) are gonna react to this. Is a virus-generated synthetic stem cell equivalent to a human being, with rights and dignity ? Why or why not ? I'll take the extra large popcorn.

Re:Let the debate begin (who cares about the scien (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185167)

What I'd love to know is if these anti-stem cell nuts would decline treatment for a lethal condition that could be cured with stem cells.

I believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185129)

People who stand against stem cell research are more likely to develop neurodegenerative diseases. Nature is the most ironic thing out there.

not reinventing? (1)

MaryBethP (1079677) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185425)

I had the same thought. I've always been taught that adult stem cells can me manipulated to behave like embryonic, but with certain limitations that embryonic cells don't have. What is the major difference here and do they mean by safer?

Re:not reinventing? (3, Insightful)

homesalad (1330775) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185539)

Adult stem cells can only form certain kinds of other cells, and thus aren't super useful unless you can find just the ones you're looking for, and lots of them. Embryonic stem cells can give rise to a much wider range of cells and, if you have a good way of growing them outside the body, you can make tons of them. The reason this new method is safer is because it doesn't involve inserting new genes *into the genome*, where it could disrupt important functions (this has happened in the past, for instance, with the gene therapy treatment for X-SCID, which lead to several cases of leukemia). In the new method the four introduced genes are on an extrachromosomal cassette which doesn't integrate into the genome (and eventually degrades), so there's not as much worry about disrupting, say, a tumor-suppressor gene. Of course, that's not to say it's completely safe....

Only certain type of cells? Not true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25186145)

You are mistaken. Conversion of adult stem cells into pluripotent (able to become ANY type of human cell) has been going on for more than a year.

There is no advantage whatsoever to using embryonic stem cells over adult. One significant advantage to adult stem cells is that they do not require the creation of an embryo. Say all you want about fetuses that "would have been discarded anyway" - that's only relevant during the research phase. Any therapies derived from that research would require the creation of a clone embryo from the patient, otherwise you still have to content with rejection issues. Stem cells derived from adult cells are already compatible.

yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25185477)

just as sleeping in an asbestos bed wont give you cancer. (the first 4 months..)

So far the best thing (1)

ypctx (1324269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185519)

since sliced bread, if I'm not mistaken.

Stem cells in teeth (2, Interesting)

sreid (650203) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185597)

just got a root canal last week.. and started reading up on teeth.. did you know that the pulp inside of teeth is filled with stem cells... what a waste of just disposing it while getting a root canal...and why wont the teeth fix itself considering it's filled with stem cells?

Re:Stem cells in teeth (2, Interesting)

raistlinwolf (1365893) | more than 5 years ago | (#25186919)

I remember reading about wisdom teeth having stem cells inside, but not why specifically wisdom teeth. It would be nice if you could take them right home and chuck them in an EZculture-1000 or whatever it is they do. Teeth won't fix themselves because they are colonized by bacteria, and there seems to be no way to kill it off completely long enough for the teeth to regenerate - supposedly they would otherwise. It's been so long since I've read about it... but there were a couple of things that could be done about tooth decay. There was a GM replacement [google.com] of the mouth bacteria that didn't attack enamel and is presumably more robust than the prevalent strain.. and I saw something about continuously exposing the cavity with UV light, that the tooth would actually grow back. Not very practical, that one, unless you can use dvd leds and one of those phat grills to point it at your cavity.

Re:Stem cells in teeth (2, Informative)

the_denman (800425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25187489)

Wikipedia has some info about the GM replacement ( BCS3-L1 [wikipedia.org] ) says that it is currently in FDA testing part 1b [oragenics.com] for early 2008.

What could possibly go wrong?! (1)

GlobalColding (1239712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25185687)

Sounds like an intro to a new shooter game or another post apocalyptic action B-movie: it all started harlmessly enough with "adding cell-reprogramming genes to adenoviruses"... THEN CAME THE ZOMBIES!!!!!!! SHOOT THEM IN THE HEAD!!!! SHOOT THEM IN THE HEAD!!!!
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