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Functional Neurons Created From Adult Somatic Cells

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the this-sounds-important dept.

Biotech 147

mmmscience writes "Researchers at UCLA have accomplished a task that has long vexed stem cell researchers: They've created the first electronically active neurons from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. This is a great leap forward for stem cell researchers, who can apply these neurons to the study of neurodegenerative diseases."

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"If I only had a brain." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26983717)

They're going to share this cell in the US Congress. Poor thing is probably scared to death.

Adult Stem Cells FTW ! (4, Interesting)

Orne (144925) | more than 5 years ago | (#26983737)

Thank you Adult Stem Cell Research! You're using your own cells, so you don't run those nasty tumor [wired.com] risks like that other stem cell technology...

Re:Adult Stem Cells FTW ! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26983783)

thanks for the website number. That's pretty scary stuff!

How long was I in there? (4, Insightful)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26983843)

Why aren't we Funding this?!

Sorry for the flame, But wow, it turns out you don't need to run the pissing matches with the pro life activists to get things done.

Re:How long was I in there? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26983943)

Current science is only about pissing matches with ideologists especially those that are majority Christian. Or at least that is how you get attention in current science. Recently something snapped and the goal of learning about the universe was pushed back behind the goal of proving religion wrong.

Re:How long was I in there? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26983987)

Pro tip: Scientific research also occurs outside of 'MERICA.

Re:How long was I in there? (3, Interesting)

dammy (131759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984171)

The only reason why the pro-abortionist are whining about lack of funding for embryonic stem cell funding is the fact industry isn't touching it. Industry isn't touching it because it's a bad investment, not because of ethical questions. Industry knows where the real benefits are for their R&D monies, adult stem cell research. They have to have a ROI on their investment, adult stem cell is most promising. Go look at where the billions they are spending are going to, that tells the tale.

Re:How long was I in there? (2, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984977)

ROI on their investment

Return On Investment... on their investment. Brilliant!

Re:How long was I in there? (2, Funny)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984209)

Problem is, many scientists stopped being Agnostic and converted to Athiesm, which inherently skews their view. Be wary of the non-agnostic scientist, they have an agenda.

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

pleappleappleap (1182301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26986181)

Be wary of those who say, "Be wary of the non-agnostic scientist, they have an agenda." for they make sweeping generalizations.

Re:How long was I in there? (2, Interesting)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26987659)

How is stating that someone with an agenda has an agenda a sweeping generalization? If I believe there is a God then my view is skewed that direction, if I say there isn't a god then my view is skewed in that direction. If I am agnostic then I dont care either way.

Its not my problem if the elitist atheists think they are better scientists because of their skewed view --(THAT is a sweeping generalization).

Re:How long was I in there? (1, Insightful)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984325)

Recently something snapped and the goal of learning about the universe was pushed back behind the goal of proving religion wrong.

Sad, but true, but probably not for the reasons you think. That scientists are forced to pay attention to the rantings of religious zealots is an artifact of having let those zealots gain a voice in politics. It is through those politics that a significant portion of the funding for scientific research is granted. When religious ideology gains the force of law, as it very clearly did under the last presidential administration here in The States, those who pursue knowledge and reason are unavoidably enjoined in a battle with the religious ideologues, whose primacy is threatened by knowledge and reason. Well, I suppose it is avoidable, if we are willing to walk away from the means that support the actual process of learning how our world works. In the Swat region of Pakistan, they (the religious zealots) take a much more direct approach, burning the schools and beheading the teachers and other "heretics". I'd rather it didn't come to that, so if scientists have to spend part of their time pointing out how stupid this or that made-up religious stricture is, I'll back their play.

Re:How long was I in there? (4, Insightful)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984557)

You have missed the point entirely. The Point, not just a point. The zealots, as you call them, have just as much right as anyone to voice an opinion, and the average man on the street has the same right to believe it. Idealists from both ends of the spectrum exist, and while the overwhelming majority of Americans do not fall directly in line behind those of any ilk, we have all allowed the vocal minority to take over the conversation.

Today's secret phrase is Rational Discourse. Now we just have to figure out where Speaker Pelosi has hidden it...

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

Gibbs-Duhem (1058152) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985245)

You have glossed over the distinction the parent was making. Everyone is free to an opinion, and should be encouraged to espouse it whenever they feel the need. However, when these opinions start restricting other people's ability to function in society, they have crossed a line and need to be examined using a more rigorous test.

Your freedom of speech ends where it limits my freedoms. Tolerance should be encouraged, except for tolerance of intolerance.

The point was that scientists have lost their voice in the process because they haven't been as involved in shaping political and social policies until they prevent them from functioning. Our government was founded on principles of limiting the impact religious views could be allowed to have on public decisions (like where to spend the public's tax money). The "logic and reason" crowd doesn't seem to have noticed, and got caught with their pants down when Bush got elected. Now they are trying to correct this by not being such pansies about expressing *their* views.

There is no reason for a scientist to couch their views so as to not offend people who believe in invisible, all knowing, all powerful, and all loving beings which impact our daily lives in important, but only in utterly unmeasurable ways. Certainly, there is no reason to do so when religious "zealots" are constantly spouting vile bitumen about the scientists and personally attacking them and their beliefs.

And for the record, I say this as someone who is deeply spiritual (although I don't believe in the Christian God). I just don't think there's any reason why me believing that we have energy spiraling in our bodies should have any relevance to anyone else when I can't prove it, they haven't experienced it, and there are no externally significant effects.

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 5 years ago | (#26986413)

I assure you that, as a Constitutional scholar, the point has not escaped me. As has been observed by others here (of the rational "ilk"), there is a vast difference between one's right to voice one's opinion and the "right" to force one's beliefs on others. That this important distinction seems to utterly escape most "social conservatives" is as telling as it is troubling. All the more reason to beat back at every turn the zealots attempts to have their ideology gain the force of law.

"When a religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."
- Benjamin Franklin

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984905)

Maybe scientists need to stop being so arrogant and err on the side of caution and sanctity of life.

Especially, if there is no real reason present necessitating doing otherwise.

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985737)

Yeah, maybe they shouldn't have invented stupid things like antibiotics and vaccines because caution wins over dying of systemic infections and thousands of children crippled with polio just to name a few of those sacred life things you want them to respect.

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

pleappleappleap (1182301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26986237)

Especially, if there is no real reason present necessitating doing otherwise.

Necessity is the mother of invention. If the necessity didn't exist, no one would be thinking about the invention.

Re:How long was I in there? (2, Insightful)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 5 years ago | (#26986525)

Maybe scientists need to stop being so arrogant and err on the side of caution and sanctity of life.

Especially, if there is no real reason present necessitating doing otherwise.

Why is caution indicated?
Warning - that's a trick question, designed to bait the unwitting into citing some religious principle as an authoritative source of what may or may not be the best approach to a given problem. You weren't really going to fall into that trap, were you?

Also, your assertion that there is "no real reason" for (I assume that we're still talking about) stem cell research is flawed at it's base. There are innumerable reasons to pursue this and many other avenues of medical research.

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 5 years ago | (#26989005)

Maybe scientists need to stop being so arrogant and err on the side of caution and sanctity of life.

And maybe religious zealots need to live and let live. When people need laws to support their religious beliefs they must not have much faith in the message of the belief.

Falcon

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985211)

"so if scientists have to spend part of their time pointing out how stupid this or that made-up religious stricture is, I'll back their play."

Problem is, most scientists know as much about theology as many religious fanatics know about science so they just spin their wheels wasting everyone's time making points that are just as dumb as saying evolution is a farce.

Re:How long was I in there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26985745)

You don't need to know about theology to recognize the scientific fact that there is absolutely no evidence for a god. And by the way, I'm an academic in religious studies. I happen to know quite a bit about religion, and feel that atheist scientists have got it right.

What is your expertise in religion?

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

pleappleappleap (1182301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26986283)

The beginning of knowledge is the statement, "I don't know." Calling yourself an atheist versus calling yourself an agnostic is to choose the statement, "I know that God doesn't exist." over the statement, "I don't know whether God exists or not."

And yes, I have extensive training in both religion and science.

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 5 years ago | (#26986967)

The beginning of knowledge is the statement, "I don't know." Calling yourself an atheist versus calling yourself an agnostic is to choose the statement, "I know that God doesn't exist." over the statement, "I don't know whether God exists or not."

And yes, I have extensive training in both religion and science.

It shows. So, still unemployed then, are we?
Sorry, I just couldn't resist...

Seriously though, well put, sir. Very well put. Would that more people, on both sides of the (god/no god) debate, understood this truth and proceeded with the humility that such an understanding properly instills in those who gain it.

Re:How long was I in there? (3, Insightful)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26988395)

Outside of a theology degree, a CS degree, leading several bible studies, married to a woman with her MS in Genetics, about to get her PharmD, 3 of my closest friends are MDiv.... I know nothing of science and theology. What I do know is that in science you should start agnostic to get a good feel for the experiment. If you hypothesize and expect certain results that is one thing, but to say "I WILL get these results" is an entirely different scenario. Just because you are an academic in religious studies in no way makes you right or an expert, nor does a theology degree make me an expert. I personally favor Christianity, so does my wife. When doing scientific experiments she set aside her religious beliefs and accepted what happened rather than what priests/pastors tell her should happen. Oddly enough, for her the two never conflicted. Unfortunately for atheists, if all the evidence points to a set of aliens being our God or that we live in a space time bubble created by His noodliness then they will refuse and try different experiments, or they would not be atheists because they are willing to accept the idea that there is a god. There is NO WAY logically in any philosophical debate that you can disprove or prove God, it is impossible, therefore atheism is just as much a religion and based on faith as any deity based belief.

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984857)

"Current science is only about pissing matches with ideologists especially those that are majority Christian"

Really, they're sure proving right on the stem cell issue. I think it's the ideologists who want discovery at any cost who are losing the argument. And refusing to face their failure.

Re:How long was I in there? (2, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984881)

Retraction....misread your post.

Yes, science has somehow lost the beauty of discovery and become ideological and political.

Atheism != Science

Science is distinct from both Atheism and Religion. It is a tool, both may use...or both may ignore. And both do a lot of both!

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

omris (1211900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984903)

Honestly, while I can appreciate the argument against embryonic stem cells, I can also just flatly disagree with it. I don't think that it makes me an "ideologist who wants discovery at any cost".

I just personally think that this particular cost is perfectly reasonable. Where is the failure in that?

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 5 years ago | (#26988821)

"Current science is only about pissing matches with ideologists especially those that are majority Christian"

Really, they're sure proving right on the stem cell issue. I think it's the ideologists who want discovery at any cost who are losing the argument. And refusing to face their failure.

If it wasn't for embryonic stem cell, ESC, research how likely would it these "breakthroughs" in adult stem cells be? These breakthroughs were made possible by research on ESC. That's and it hasn't been shown yet that adult stem cells can be used everywhere ESCs can.

Falcon

Re:How long was I in there? (4, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984131)

Why aren't we Funding this?!

Sorry for the flame, But wow, it turns out you don't need to run the pissing matches with the pro life activists to get things done.

We ARE funding this. This is the type of research that was funded under our previous president. The only thing that was not funded was embryonic stem cell research from NEW lines. Stem cell research from then existing lines of embryonic stem cells was funded.

Unfortunately, your are not the only one who is not aware of this. Since it was so popular to bash Bush, the common thought was that Bush banned all stem cell research. This is absolutely NOT true. Bush banned nothing! What Bush did by executive order dealt with federal funding only, and even then the only restriction was that it not fund research based on NEW stem cell lines from "discarded" embryos.

Re:How long was I in there? (2, Insightful)

homesnatch (1089609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984637)

Did anyone read the article or even summary? These are from adult cells, not embryonic stem cells. There is no controversy about this type of research.

The only problems with this type of research is the retards that don't understand the difference and just jump at the words "stem cells" (on both sides of the issue)

Re:How long was I in there? (1)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985065)

Why aren't we Funding this?!

As a matter of fact, the USA was, out of necessity due to restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research in the US, funding so-called "adult stem cell" research almost exclusively, whereas in some other parts of the world the strategy was to "go for the low-hanging fruit" and concentrate on embryonic stem-cell research, to the point that funding for developing non-embryonic sources of pluripotent cells was actually quite neglected.

It has turned out to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it takes a lot of time and effort to get to the point of merely making an "adult stem cell" that could've gone into developing the technology to use the stem cells once you have them. However, on the other hand by pouring research efforts into adult stem-cell development you can secure yourself a much more readily available source of pluripotent cells that is more immune to ethically debatable practices.

In a way, the latter strategy is more forward thinking (even taking ideology/ethics out of the equation). If stem-cell techniques become successful and widespread we'd need a readily available source of raw material. I think it goes without saying (though I'll say it anyways) that supply exceeds demand in terms of sperm availability, however it isn't so convenient for female donors to supply large numbers of viable eggs (to say the least--in fact fertility treatments to trigger ovulation, followed by the procedure to harvest the eggs, is hard enough on patients to do it when trying to conceive--they aren't going to do it just to sell their eggs).

We already have organ donor shortages--thousands die all the time who could've easily lived with a transplant but couldn't locate a donor. Science has given us an option to avoid this problem with stem cells. If we needed embryos for large quantities of stem cells, we'd either have to establish "embryo banks" and try to hire women to be in these "coops" from time to time to suply eggs, or else we'd have to venture further down the road to clone embryos on a mass scale, which is not only ethically questionable but presents problems with genetic degradation.

Sadly, science is tainted by ideology/politics on BOTH sides. Anti-abortionists manage to block valuable research because it uses embryonic tissue, but pro-abortionists and major embryonic researchers are so focused on what to do with the cells that they are neglecting promising alternatives--largely because embryonic research yields faster results and quicker and bigger grants.

Stem-cell research is not the only place this is happening either--with bio-fuel technology US mid-western agribusiness lobbies are grabbing money to use corn as a fuel source despite it being a relatively poor choice, but misguided environmentalists are trying to shut down important bio-fuel research by misstating facts and extending research made on corn-ethanol fuels to ALL biofuels. As a result, bio-fuel technology remains underdeveloped while significant renewable energy sources go unused (everything from agricultural waste like manure to algae to restaurant and retail waste inventory and landfill waste).

selling eggs (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 5 years ago | (#26988693)

it isn't so convenient for female donors to supply large numbers of viable eggs (to say the least--in fact fertility treatments to trigger ovulation, followed by the procedure to harvest the eggs, is hard enough on patients to do it when trying to conceive--they aren't going to do it just to sell their eggs).

Ah but there are women who would sell some of their eggs if they could, it's currently illegal to sell eggs in the US. "Reason" magazine had an article on this, "The art of the deal in the gray market for human eggs [reason.com] ", where the writer wanted to allow a couple to have her eggs.

Falcon

Re:How long was I in there? (4, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985163)

Sorry for the flame, But wow, it turns out you don't need to run the pissing matches with the pro life activists to get things done.

The base knowledge for making the IPS cells, like which genes were necessary, came from... embryonic stem cell research. Had we not done that research, we never would have made IPS cells.

Second that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26989023)

I am working with hESC, I am starting to move into iPS cells - the whole iPS technology is based around conditions identified for hESC, and then figuring out how to make equivalent cells from other sources. no hESC, no IPSC.

Probably in 20 years we'll be 100% iPSC, but the foundation for all of it is the hESC work that has gone on over the last decade.

Re:Adult Stem Cells FTW ! (1)

Rhabarber (1020311) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984545)

I don't quite understand the euphoria. Tumors always grow from your own cells.
Note that foreign cells would be attacked by your immune system while these cells aren't. The cancer risk might well be higher.

Re:Adult Stem Cells FTW ! (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985121)

This isn't "adult stem cells" technically, adult stem cells more specifically refer to natural cells in the body that are generally thought to make fewer types of cells than embryonic stem cells. These are specifically IPS cells, adult cells (as I understand it they don't seem to need to be adult STEM cells) that have been converted to a more primitive state.

The terminology is still being hammered out, but as of right now I don't think it's correct to call these adult stem cells, they're more similar to embryonic stem cells, and embryonic stem cell research lead to the discovery/invention of IPS cells.

More importantly, they do in fact very much carry the risk of tumors. One of the four genes typically used to create IPS cells is c-myc, which is a tumor-causing gene. That's a concern, although it seems you can get IPS without it.

No matter how you get them, it seems that IPS cells will in fact produce tumors if you don't instruct every last one of them to differentiate. As I said, IPS cells are pretty similar to embryonic stem cells. They reproduce and can turn into many different cell types. That's something you really don't want going on, one of your best defenses against tumor formation is that most of your cells don't reproduce and most can't make more than one cell type if they do. If you were to take your cells, make them IPS, and inject them into your brain, you would develop teratomas and die.

From the wiki page
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_pluripotent_stem_cell [wikipedia.org]

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells are believed to be identical to natural pluripotent stem cells, such as embryonic stem cells in many respects, such as the expression of certain stem cell genes and proteins, chromatin methylation patterns, doubling time, embryoid body formation, teratoma formation, viable chimera formation, and potency and differentiability, but the full extent of their relation to natural pluripotent stem cells is still being assessed.

Unfortunately, one of the four genes used (namely, c-Myc) is oncogenic, and 20% of the chimeric mice developed cancer. In a later study, Yamanaka reported that one can create iPSCs even without c-Myc. The process takes longer and is not as efficient, but the resulting chimeras didn't develop cancer.

Bottom line is that IPS cells and this result, although promising, aren't quite ready to be used to their full potential, although it's quite promising. The previous papers had already evidence that neurons could be produced, but the electronic potential seems to be the gold standard for making sure you have functional neurons.

Disclaimer: I'm not an expert in the field so take that with a grain of salt. Although I get the sense that currently, no one knows as much as we need to know. It's a VERY young field.

Re:Adult Stem Cells FTW ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26985301)

1. This isn't adult stem cell research. The researchers took somatic cells, then reprogrammed them into an iPS cells (equilvanet to a embryonic stem cell), and then differentiated them into neurons.

2. This isn't a big break through. Kevin Eggan's group made neurons from somatic cells last year using a similar technique. The UCLA guys just went a step further and characterized their electrical activity.

Re:Adult Stem Cells FTW ! (2, Interesting)

bradbury (33372) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985545)

Think again "oh so expert one". Tumorogenisis, or in the worst cases teratomas, are *not* a function of whether or not the cells are from "oneself" but are a question of (a) the level of mutation in the genome from which the stem cells are derived; and (b) whether or not the genetic program can properly adapt if it is used in environments which are inherently foreign which are never encountered during "normal" development. Using some pseudo-programming comparisons (a) "How long you would your program work properly if your hard drives were experiencing repeated head crashes in the disk region where the program was stored?"; and (b) "Would your program work very well if it were compiled to run on an x86 architecture and you tried to run it on an IBM System 370 architecture?"

In the typical case, the immune system responds and will eliminate "foreign" cells (including cells derived from foreign derived stem cells) within 1-2 months (based on experiments done at Stanford within the last year). So "foreign" (i.e. embryonic, non-self umbilical, non-self iPSC) cells have a very small chance of surviving for very long w/o immunosuppressive therapy. There may be some "immune system" exempt parts of the body (e.g. spine [which is what Geron is working on] or maybe the brain) but any place which is exposed to the normal immune system (e.g. blood flow) is probably doomed to rejection of non-self cells. Though close MHC type matching which is well defined for bone marrow transplants may eliminate some of this -- but that implies you have ESC or iPSC availability for your MHC types. Currently a low probability.

Now, the hidden dead body under the carpet, which has not explored fully, is the level of DNA microdeletions derived from the misrepair of DNA double strand breaks which may corrupt functional genomes thus leading to a "smorgasborg" of actual genomes in a typical "collection" of cells (some of which may be fine, some of which less fine and some of which may be tumorogenic) if you are working with anything but cells derived from a known, qualified, line of "pristine" stem cells. The bottom line is that the older one is, the less likely one is to be able to (a) create iPSC in the first place [since the genes required for proper differentiation and development have been inactive for 50, 60, 70 years and may have accumulated any number of mutations] -- [it is well known to people working with iPSC that deriving such cells from older individuals is much more difficult than deriving such cells from younger individuals and various researchers, e.g. Derrick Rossi, formerly @ Stanford, currently @ Harvard, have documented the failing capabilities of "aged" stem cells]; and (b) without the complete genomic sequence of each iPSC stem cell line, as may as are necessary (i.e. currently costing ~$100+K/cell line) to prove you have a functional, non-tumorogenic genome) you have no way of knowing whether the cells are "pristine" or "carcinogenic".

There are cells which may be used from most adults to derive either pristine adult stem cells (the simplest route) or used to develop pristine iPSC and subsequently various cell and tissue types (a more complex and more expensive path) but we will not get there for several decades unless people recognize that this can work in the near term future and promote its adoption. I strongly suspect that most people reading /. are not those individuals having the most immediate short term interest in this problem -- though they may have relatives for whom it is an issue bordering on being of critical significance.

Robert Bradbury

Disclosures: I filed a patent in Dec. 2008 for the procedures required to isolate "pristine" stem cells (adult or non-adult) without the requirement of having to sequence an entire genome for each cell line.

Re:Adult Stem Cells FTW ! (1)

Deethe (1486867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985563)

This is horribly misinformed.

Adult stem cells are stem cells in the body that have limited capacity for self renewal and differentiation (they can generally only become cells of the type of organ they are located in).

These researchers were not using these type of cells. What they did use were regular somatic cells (ie. a regular skin cell). They then reprogrammed them into iPS cells using a combination of retroviruses. iPS cells are equivalent to embryonic stem cells in that they can be grown indefinitely, and can become any cell type in the body.

The researchers then used existing techniques for differentiating embryonic stem cells, to differentiate the iPS cells they made into neurons.

Moreover, because of the technique used to generate the iPS cell (using retroviruses to introduce oncogenes), these cells are even more likely to generate tumors than embryonic stem cells.

Re:Adult Stem Cells FTW ! (1)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985659)

Your kidding right? The tumor formation doesn't happen because the cells are from a different person. The tumors form because by definition stem cells can replicate in a unlimited fashion and sometimes that go out of control and becomes cancer. This is most certainly the case with adult somatic cells that are induced into pluripotent stem cells. You can even argue it is more likely for induced cells to cause tumors because the artificial steps we take to make them stem cells are not completely understood and are in no way perfect. The embryonic stems cells need less manipulation to perform their function because they are naturally primed to do the job and therefore less likely to go out of control.

Re:Adult Stem Cells FTW ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26986289)

Hooray, someone who actually understands correlation != causation

And one exception is hardly enough to even correlate the two.

Re:Adult Stem Cells FTW ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26985663)

Psst, Your own stem cells can cause tumors just as well as other people's. Tumors come from uncontrolled cell growth. That can happen to cells regardless of the source. Especially if you've mucked around with them. That's why people get cancer, even when they have never been given other people's stem cells(horror).

Re:Adult Stem Cells FTW ! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26987103)

Hi, weird enough I just listened to a professor from the Indiana University named Sam Rhine talk about this very thing today for 4 hours. What he said was iPS cells have the same risks as embryonic stem cells. The only difference is, in the last 6 months, (I don't remember exactly when) researchers have turned the stem cells green with fluorescent markers.

Previously, the stem cells caused nasty tumors because maybe 2% of the stem cells never differentiated and caused tumors once they entered the body. Now, with the green markers, researchers are able to pick out all the green cells at the end, because the differentiated cells are normal. The end product is 100% differentiated cells, with extremely minimal chance of causing a tumor.

To sum it up, the tumors could be caused by both embryonic stem and iPS cells, but it's the fluorescent markers that actually prevent the tumors now. Hope I helped you out in some way, my first time ever posting on slashdot, long time reader though.
(High School Senior)

Science will find a way... (3, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26983753)

I'm sure a century ago "neurologists" would have stated that the study of these diseases would have been impossible without cutting up a few people and performing experiments on them...

Re:Science will find a way... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26984047)

Science does a great job time after time, but it was always the younger brother Ethics who languished behind. Poor ethics.

Because torturing and killing animals is much more humane than cutting up humans, right?
I'm sure the hundreds of thousands of sentient great apes who have been experimented upon agree.

If we have avoided human suffering, we have balanced that checkbook on the backs of helpless creatures.
These technologies reduce our need for such tactics, although we still test soap in the eyes of rabbits.

The whole idea of where "life" begins still applies, we've just rationalized a convenient base camp before the summit.
I hope we know what we're doing with this new technology, and before we use it.

Re:Science will find a way... (5, Interesting)

omris (1211900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984323)

I work in research with an animal model.

I get really tired of the "animals still matter" argument.

It IS a valid argument. But you have to understand the scope of what you're talking about. In the United States of America, animal research projects are not just started when the researcher wants. The rabbits you talk about: they weren't tested on until the people doing the tested justified both the need to find out if the "soap" hurt bunny's eyes, and why they had to use the bunny to a committee consisting of people who like animals, like science, or who have no opinion on either science or animals, but might represent the general community.

It is not true that they test the same formulation of dish soap in some poor animal's eyes over and over again. That would be pointless. But when they put in a new active ingredient, one that hes never been tested, they need to make sure that it won't kill your stupid kid when he drinks a gallon of it.

Case in point: I was reading an article in a laboratory animal trade magazine where they discussed these sorts of tests. The one they were talking about involved a product that had already been tested (a lotion I think) and found safe, which was getting an additional ingredient which had been tested in other products and worked out fine. The funny thing is, in this case, it turned out that the new formula caused all sorts of problems. The animals developed rashes and skin problems and had to be euthanized. The ethics issue they were considering wasn't whether or not they should have done the test, but whether or not they had looked adequately at the risk to the animals before they had agreed to let the research proceed.

A lot of lay people have a misconception about how this works.

And no matter how good the technology gets, some things simply cannot be researched in vitro. An animal model is sometimes necessary. When the chimps get smart and start breeding us for scientific research for the good of chimpanzees everywhere, I'll be the last to complain.

Re:Science will find a way... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26985607)

You can mod me as you like. My point remains.

I respect the results; it's the method I take umbrage with.

I realize development takes research, and research requires experimentation.
I just disagree that experimentation requires suffering and torture-
Can you not find a more elegant experiment?

You say there are no alternatives, but I'd say the economic impetus is not there.
It just seems like lazy business-model science, which is all too common.

Do we really NEED that new formulation of soap? Do we need it yesterday?
Is there NO other way of testing the formula in a lab setting?
Or are they simply unwilling to spend large monies on such technologies
when they can simply jab a $10 bunny rabbit?

It's the economics of rationalizing unnecessary torture via experimentation-
THAT is what I was referring to, not the "greater good" theory that you seem to subscribe to.

Remember, how you have treated the least of my brothers, you have treated myself also.
Sentience understands pain. When the apes decide to breed us for experimentation,
I will be the first to jab a swab with some 'new forumlation' in your eye.

Only then will you understand.

Re:Science will find a way... (1)

omris (1211900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26986457)

I just disagree that experimentation requires suffering and torture-
Can you not find a more elegant experiment?

No. Sometimes you can't. If you can, you will be REQUIRED to do so. That is one of the first hurdles you have to pass on the road to actually experimenting on an animal: proving that there is no alternative.

Is there NO other way of testing the formula in a lab setting?
Or are they simply unwilling to spend large monies on such technologies
when they can simply jab a $10 bunny rabbit?

This is a problem already addressed by the current system. We put science into the capitalist realm, where in order to survive, like everyone else science must make economics a priority. Then we ask them to do what is "right" instead of what is cheap. For example, if you have the option between two protocols which will net the same exact amount of data, one of which is very expensive, the other of which costs much less but uses three times as many animals to achieve the same goal, which do you do? This decision is made by the committee, not by the researchers. It prevents the researchers from being able to choose cheap over "right". So your argument does not hold up to reality. Researchers, who stand to gain by doing things cheaply instead of easily, aren't the ones who decide if that is allowed.

It's the economics of rationalizing unnecessary torture via experimentation-
THAT is what I was referring to, not the "greater good" theory that you seem to subscribe to.

Remember, how you have treated the least of my brothers, you have treated myself also.
Sentience understands pain. When the apes decide to breed us for experimentation,
I will be the first to jab a swab with some 'new forumlation' in your eye.

Only then will you understand.

My point is that you can only argue that there is a considerable amount of economic rationalization of "torture" because you do not understand how the process works. The process is in fact designed to eliminate as much of that as possible.

I want to do an animal study. In order to do it, I need permission from this committee. They ask me to provide justification for what I want to do and why. One of the things I have to do is prove that no alternatives exist. If there are alternatives, and I claim that they are too expensive, no committee that I've ever even heard of would consider that adequate. They would reject your proposal out of hand.

I am not claiming that animal research is not sometimes torturous. I am simply explaining that it is not done even though there are lots of easy alternatives. The entire purpose of the federally mandated system of approval is so that it can be done only when absolutely necessary, and only when justified.

In my opinion, I use up good karma every time I have to euthanize an animal. I feel grief for every single living thing that I have harmed in my work. But I also hope that the the good it does makes up for it, at least in part. I think I actually have a pretty damn good understanding of what a lab animal goes though, and what that sacrifice is worth. Then again, I work mostly with rats. Maybe I would change my evil ways if I had to work with chimps.

Honestly, if you want to talk cruelty, let's discuss the fact that it's illegal for an animal shelter to even donate the corpse of a euthanized animal to be used for scientific research. So we kill millions of stray cats every year, then breed different cats and kill them for biology students to dissect. Where is the sense in that?

Re:Science will find a way... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26987143)

When the chimps get smart and start breeding us for scientific research for the good of chimpanzees everywhere, I'll be the last to complain.

Will you really?

I can believe it if you're just saying that in the huge rush to complain about the chimp take-over and human-breeding program, the few seconds you spend contemplating the irony of the situation would make it likely that once you got around to complaining you were in fact the last to do so.

Otherwise I have a hard time imagining you being led into the Acid on Crotch testing chambers by your chimp master and shrugging and saying "que sera sera".

Frankly I plan to start complaining about chimpanzees breeding us for experiments even before the coup is finished. Especially since, in contrast to your story about humans, chimpanzees are notorious for being lax on ethical oversight committees.

Re:Science will find a way... (1)

omris (1211900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26988207)

LOL.

I didn't mean to imply that I wouldn't be fighting to escape. But I wouldn't think that the chimps were inherently evil for trying to save their kids from death via shampoo. It was more the motivations behind it that I wouldn't complain about, rather than the actual application of acid to cratch.

Nor would I begrudge them an escape attempt or a monkey bite in their current situation, when I apply the acid to THEIR crotch.

Re:Science will find a way... (1)

nolifetillpleather (975338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26987709)

Ah yes, the most important drug to human survival, hand-lotion. Thank you, sir.

Re:Science will find a way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26984847)

I'm assuming that you're vegan... or at least vegetarian. Would you mind explaining why it's OK to take plant life and not OK to take animal life?

Re:Science will find a way... (1)

pleappleappleap (1182301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26986393)

Well, the Hindu perspective is that one should not cause harm to anything capable of suffering.

Re:Science will find a way... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984933)

a) But did they do so AFTER the people were dead or while they were still alive? (Excluding Nazi's)

b) Did they kill people merely in order to have test subjects?

I do not think they were cutting up people for disease research while still alive, nor killing them for the sole purpose of doing so.

Re:Science will find a way... (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985525)

Well you can't just exclude the Nazi's/Japanese and others who did such horrific acts. There was a group of people who said that we need to use live humans, and they did so.

It's called vivisection. (1)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 5 years ago | (#26987137)

It's called vivisection [wikipedia.org] . They once did it to prisoners. In other words, you could be sentenced to death by vivisection (which was pretty horrible).

You can find several mentions of that here [wikipedia.org] , in particular this part:

Vivisection has long been practiced on human beings. Herophilos, the "father of anatomy" and founder of the first medical school in Alexandria, was described by the church leader Tertullian as having vivisected at least 600 live prisoners. In recent times, the wartime programs of Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele, Shiro Ishii, founder of the Japanese military Unit 731, and Dr. Fukujiro Ishiyama at Kyushu Imperial University Hospital, conducted human vivisections on concentration camp prisoners in their respective countries during World War II.[23]

In November 2006, Doctor Akira Makino confessed to Kyodo news having performed surgery and amputations on condemned prisoners, including women and children in 1944 and 1945 while he was stationed on Mindanao.[24] In 2007, Doctor Ken Yuasa testified to the Japan Times that he believes at least 1,000 persons working for the ShÅwa regime, including surgeons, were involved in vivisections over mainland China.[25]

Human volunteers can consent to be subjects for invasive experiments which may involve, for example, the taking of tissue samples (biopsies), or other procedures which require surgery on the volunteer. These procedures must be approved by ethical review, and carried out in an approved manner that minimizes pain and long term health risks to the subject.[26] Despite this, the term is generally recognized as pejorative: one would never refer to life-saving surgery, for example, as "vivisection." The use of the term vivisection when referring to procedures performed on humans almost always implies a lack of consent.

Electronically? (4, Informative)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#26983767)

They've created the first electronically active neurons from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

I know it's a direct quote from TFA, but, dear God, I hope they mean "electrically active". Unless UCLA is now working for Cyberdyne...

Re:Electronically? (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984427)

I know it's a direct quote from TFA, but, dear God, I hope they mean "electrically active". Unless UCLA is now working for Cyberdyne...

I guess you haven't been paying attention. The age of Cyberdyne is over, it's all about ZeiraCorp now.

Re:Electronically? (1)

ClosedEyesSeeing (1278938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985879)

Needs more OCP [wikipedia.org] imo.

Re:Electronically? (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984691)

The Cylons were created by man.....

Re:Electronically? (1)

pleappleappleap (1182301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26986433)

Not in the original series...

Nerve stapling ahoy! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26983833)

"The prisoners were not permanently* damaged."

*See Patriot Act.

Re:Nerve stapling ahoy! (2, Funny)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26983921)

Somebody's been playing too much Alpha Centauri. Will you quit droning on about it now already?

Re:Nerve stapling ahoy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26984135)

Frickin mindworms again.

-Brother Lol of the chuckleheads

Re:Nerve stapling ahoy! (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984207)

*LAL*

The abstract and link to the paper... (3, Informative)

RandCraw (1047302) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984099)

"Directed differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells generates active motor neurons"

S Karumbayaram, BG Novitch, M Patterson, JA Umbach, L Richter, A Lindgren, AE Conway, AT Clark, SA Goldman, K Plath, M Wiedau-Pazos, HI Kornblum, WE Lowry

"The potential for directed differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to functional post-mitotic neuronal phenotypes is unknown. Following methods shown to be effective at generating motor neurons from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), we found that once specified to a neural lineage, human iPS cells could be differentiated to form motor neurons with a similar efficiency as hESCs. Human iPS-derived cells appeared to follow a normal developmental progression associated with motor neuron formation and possessed prototypical electrophysiological properties. This is the first demonstration that human iPS-derived cells are able to generate electrically active motor neurons. These findings demonstrate the feasibility of using iPS-derived motor neuron progenitors and motor neurons in regenerative medicine applications and in vitro modeling of motor neuron diseases."

Subscription to Wiley Interscience required for more...

        Randy

Re:The abstract and link to the paper... (1)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984703)

Subscription to Wiley Interscience required for more...

So, what you're saying is, these functional neurons will allow us to make mega men?

In preparation for the inevitable comments (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984133)

Pretty soon the people not in favor of using embryonic stem research will likely join this thread and start talking about how we can just use adult cells and how that means we should never do any research on embryonic stem cells. However, this research, like most research involving adult stem cells, relied on prior work with embryonic stem cells. This sort of research is only doable because of embryonic stem cell research.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (4, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984283)

Pretty soon the people not in favor of using embryonic stem research will likely join this thread and start talking about how we can just use adult cells and how that means we should never do any research on embryonic stem cells. However, this research, like most research involving adult stem cells, relied on prior work with embryonic stem cells. This sort of research is only doable because of embryonic stem cell research.

Then it's a good thing President Bush funded such research. From HERE [nih.gov] :

Federal Policy
President Bush's Criteria

On August 9th, 2001, Former President George W. Bush announced that federal funds may be awarded for research using human embryonic stem cells if the following criteria are met:

        * The derivation process (which begins with the destruction of the embryo) was initiated prior to 9:00 P.M. EDT on August 9, 2001.
        * The stem cells must have been derived from an embryo that was created for reproductive purposes and was no longer needed.
        * Informed consent must have been obtained for the donation of the embryo and that donation must not have involved financial inducements.

NIH's Role

The NIH, as the Federal government's leading biomedical research organization, is implementing Former President Bush's policy. The NIH funds research scientists to conduct research on existing human embryonic stem cells and to explore the enormous promise of these unique cells, including their potential to produce breakthrough therapies and cures.

Investigators from 14 laboratories in the United States, India, Israel, Singapore, Sweden, and South Korea have derived stem cells from 71 individual, genetically diverse blastocysts. These derivations meet Former President Bush's criteria for use in federally funded human embryonic stem cell research. The NIH has consulted with each of the investigators who have derived these cells. These scientists are working with the NIH and the research community to establish a research infrastructure to ensure the successful handling and the use of these cells in the laboratory.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (0, Flamebait)

Jeng (926980) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984673)

Citing Bush's funding of embryonic stem cells is like being happy you have a poisoned well.

Yea, you can get water out of the well, but you can't do anything with it.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985513)

Citing Bush's funding of embryonic stem cells is like being happy you have a poisoned well.

Yea, you can get water out of the well, but you can't do anything with it.

Um... read the article. It proves that you are wrong. The whole point is that something WAS done. Looks to me like they were able to get water from the well, drink it, and they found it refreshing, healthy and not poisoned at all.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985871)

I read the article, and indeed something was done. It allowed research on contaminated lines. You might have also noticed how few lines are available for federal dollars.

My analogy of the poisoned well stands.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (0, Redundant)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26987029)

I read the article, and indeed something was done. It allowed research on contaminated lines. You might have also noticed how few lines are available for federal dollars.

My analogy of the poisoned well stands.

Maybe you didn't read TFA:

Researchers at UCLA have accomplished a task that has long vexed stem cell researchers: Theyâ(TM)ve created the first electrically active neurons from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. This is a great leap forward for stem cell researchers, who can apply these neurons to the study of neurodegenerative diseases.

Here, a group of scientists and probably students were successful in creating active, working neurons from iPS cells.

In other words, a group of thirsty scientists drank from the well you said was poisoned and are fine. Turns out that there was nothing wrong with the water after all. Now, you analogy would be correct if they took federal money, did all kinds of research and determined that nothing could be done with iPS cells. Fortunately, that is not the case. Since they were successful, your analogy fails. I don't see why this is so hard to under stand.

Is it really that hard to admit that Bush did something that was not 100% completely wrong? Don't let your partisan hatred cloud reality.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (4, Informative)

addikt10 (461932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985243)

Yes, thereby forcing anyone with federal funding of any sort that wanted to research on lines that weren't already in place by 2001 to create entirely separate laboratories to work with these new lines.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/24/science/24conv.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 [nytimes.com]

Gosh, I sure am glad that he supported stem cell research.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985491)

Yes, thereby forcing anyone with federal funding of any sort that wanted to research on lines that weren't already in place by 2001 to create entirely separate laboratories to work with these new lines.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/24/science/24conv.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 [nytimes.com]

Gosh, I sure am glad that he supported stem cell research.

My first response is, "So?"

Next, you know they could actually pay for the research themselves. The research was not banned, just not funded with tax payer dollars. Maybe they could ask the German government for grant money. Maybe hit up the Saudi's for cash. Science is not dependent on government funding.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

omris (1211900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26986651)

I have to point out that in capitalist systems, science is VERY dependent on government for funding. Unless a business stands to make a lot of money off your research (which is almost never the case for basic science) who is going to give you money to do it?

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

brianerst (549609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26987163)

I have to point out that in capitalist systems, science is VERY dependent on government for funding. Unless a business stands to make a lot of money off your research (which is almost never the case for basic science) who is going to give you money to do it?

So, then, how is this unique to capitalist systems? Are you saying that in socialist or communist systems, the much smaller private sector does a lot of basic research?

You could try to make the argument that in a corporatist environment dominated by monopolies you might get some private sector basic research (ala Bell Labs), but somehow I don't get the impression that's the kind of system you're pining for.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

omris (1211900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26988275)

I was implying that in a communist system, science would display the same amount of dependence on government as everything else, rather than MORE dependence, as in capitalism.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26989041)

And since the existing lines were considered useless, that effectively killed research. NIH funding is the major (by a Grand Canyon sized margin) contributor to pre-clinical research. Suppose DARPA was prevented from investigating new network protocols: you would have no electronic outlet for your myopic ignorance. My life, my existence in this universe, is hanging on the outcome of clinical trials beginning now. Thanks to Bush and mindless people like you I have eight fewer years and many fewer options.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984285)

I'm sorry but citation needed.

You very well may be right but with a claim like that you need to back it up.
http://xkcd.com/285/ [xkcd.com]

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (2, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984351)

You could just read the abstract: which contains the words "Following methods shown to be effective at generating motor neurons from human embryonic stem cells..."

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26984375)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Mengele

research on adult stem cells did NOT "need" to be prefaced by work on embryonic stem cells, it was just easier that way... However, easier does not mean right.

the easiest way to test human resistance to pain is to hurt humans, the easiest way to test how much blood loss kills a person is to bleed them to death... that doesn't make these experiments "necessary" or even acceptable.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984985)

True, and that's a ends justifies means arguments. Many understandings about physiology were derived from brutal experiments conducted by the Nazi's on Jewish slaves.

In fact, there were probably a number of Germans who benefited from such discoveries. Does such justify the torture and scientific experimentation done to the Jews?

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

omris (1211900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985157)

I think it is maybe a little oversimplified to say that the ethical issues surrounding harvesting stem cells from an embryo aren't SLIGHTLY less cut and dry than the holocaust.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984429)

"people not in favor of using embryonic stem research"

I'm pretty sure he doesn't read Slashdot.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

kid_oliva (899189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984651)

Not trying to be dick, but where is the link to verify what you are saying is in fact true? The only breakthroughs have been with adult stem cell. The following article is one doctor's opinion: http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/winter01/stem_cell.html [21stcentur...cetech.com]

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

omris (1211900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984841)

Although I see what you're getting at, it's not really as applicable here as you'd think.

Previously, the technology did not exist to do with adult induced cells what was done with embryonic cells. We have developed better tools, so now we can do with the adult cells what was once only possible with embryonic cells.

However it does not follow that we could never have learned how to do this without doing it to embryonic cells first. I would venture to guess that we never would have attempted it if we hadn't seen it happen in the embryonic cells first. We might never have figured it out. But we might have. It's really an impossible point to argue either way.

It's sort of liking saying that it's easier to make muffins than a souffle, so it isn't possible to make a souffle if you can't make muffins. While the ability to make muffins might make learning how to make a souffle a whole lots easier, and you might never even TRY to make a souffle if you can't handle the muffins, it is still possible to master a souffle without that previous knowledge.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984969)

Learn how to drive a car before driving an 18-wheeler.

Learn how to work with adult stem cells before (and if there is even a need) to work on fetal stem cells.

Re:In preparation for the inevitable comments (1)

omris (1211900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985055)

The issue is that in your analogy, the much more difficult technique is the car. If it were easier to use adult cells than the embryonic ones, then TRUST ME, that's what would have happened.

We're not evil, we don't hate babies (at least not as a defining characteristic). We just want to be able to do the most without making it ten times more difficult if at all possible. So unless there is some ethical objection (which there is, but only for SOME people) there is no earthly reason to make it so much harder.

electronical? active? adult? pluripotent? neurons? (1)

mynickwastaken (690966) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984797)


then, they must be specialized in pr0n.

What? (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 5 years ago | (#26984831)

Another adult stem cell success? What...no need to use fetal stem cells?

Who'd have thought such a thing???

http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2008-10-30-troll.jpg [huffingtonpost.com]

And I'd rather be a troll...if that means BOTH disagreeing with the mass of sheep and being right!

Replacing motor neurons ain't so easy... (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 5 years ago | (#26985565)

I don't really get this. They keep talking about, for example, replacing motor neurons in people with spinal injuries. This seems VERY pie in the sky to me, and here's why: A single motor neuron may be over a meter in length, running form your spine to an extremity. First of all, you need to get that new neuron to synapse with an existing neuron that's mapped to the location where you're going to run the neuron. I suppose there's probably some way to induce the synapsing, but I imagine it's a very hit or miss proposition. Not to mention, the nerves in the spinal cord aren't exactly labeled. You can probe the individual neurons and see where they map in an fMRI, I suppose. And exact mapping isn't necessary since the brain can remap regions fairly readily (for example, if you lose a finger, the are of the motor areas of the brain mapped to that finger tends to get remapped to the adjacent fingers).

But then you now have to run this neuron from the spinal cord to wherever it's supposed to go. And there are a lot of neurons that this has to be done with. I would imagine the extent of the surgery involved in running new neurons from your spine to your legs, in such a way as to make your legs fully functional again, would simply be prohibitive.

I could very well be wrong, but this has always seemed like a pipe dream to me.

Re:Replacing motor neurons ain't so easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26985965)

It is going to be very hard to get new neurons to go to the right places, but not impossible. Many animals undergo much much nerve regeneration than people can, so its likely that with the proper developmental "settings" some of the neurons will hit the right targets. And there is plasticity for things like motor cortex, so even if it isn't wired up perfectly the brain can still use it. All of this research will take decades though.

Re:Replacing motor neurons ain't so easy... (2, Informative)

RandCraw (1047302) | more than 5 years ago | (#26986147)

If it's a pipe dream, then why do so many researchers and physicians regard iPSCs as a holy grail? Probably it's because stem cell therapy has *already* repaired damaged tissue and restored function to a variety of tissues in mammals and humans, including the spinal cord.

In case your tragic state of perplexity becomes too much to live with:

Stem Cell
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell [wikipedia.org]

Stem Cell Basics
http://dels.nas.edu/bls/stemcells/booklet.shtml [nas.edu]

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_Pluripotent_Stem_Cell [wikipedia.org]

Video: What Are Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells?
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8370692532177471184&hl=en [google.com]

Stem Cell Therapy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell_therapy [wikipedia.org]

        Randy

Re:Replacing motor neurons ain't so easy... (1)

kyriosdelis (1100427) | more than 5 years ago | (#26988589)

Fear not, for nature has a way:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axon_guidance [wikipedia.org]
In a nutshell, specific protein concentrations in gradients all over the nervous system, help neurons extend their axons and find their specific targets.

mod 0bp (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26986137)

Problems with see... The number

fiR5t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26986259)

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  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>