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Advance In Making Stem Cells From Skin

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the we-don't-need-no-steenkin'-viruses dept.

Medicine 139

KillerBob writes with an advance on the news from a year back that stem cells can be produced from human skin — discussed here. Now Canadian researchers have found a safe way to generate stem cells without using viruses to modify the genome, a process that can have its own dangers. "The ethical debate over embryonic stem cell use may soon be moot, thanks to a Canadian team of researchers who, together with a team out of Scotland, has found a safe way to grow stem cells from a patient's own skin. The revolutionary finding, described in a paper published yesterday by the international science journal Nature, means doctors may be one step closer to treating a multitude of diseases, including Alzheimer's, diabetes and Parkinson's."

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Wrong way around... (3, Insightful)

Bombula (670389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047485)

Advance In Making Stem Cells From Skin

Don't get me wrong, I understand why this is cool. But I'd still much rather hear that there'd been a breakthrough in making skin from stem cells.

Re:Wrong way around... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047733)

I'm not trolling, just asking, because I haven't even thought about it:

Isn't the idea that you more or less just inject the stem cells in the skin for example and they convert to skin cells?

Re:Wrong way around... (3, Interesting)

drosboro (1046516) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047739)

That would be the general idea, yes. But, unless I'm missing something, there's no actual clinical treatment for doing that for skin yet. If I am reading correctly, the only "production-ready" stem cell treatments are involving cancer (specifically leukemia and other blood-related cancers) - there's been some success at replenishing bone marrow after a round of chemo knocks out all of the existing marrow.

Re:Wrong way around... (5, Informative)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047865)

You have to have the stem cells before you can move to using them for something. As they are, they're really expensive, rare, and possibly dangerous to make so they have to be screened very well. This new process makes experimentation and trials more likely. Gotta lay the foundation before you build the building.

Re:Wrong way around... (2, Insightful)

Alinabi (464689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048461)

As they are, they're really expensive, rare, and possibly dangerous to make so they have to be screened very well.

I don't see why they should be. The IVF facilities are full of discarded blastocysts waiting to be put to good use.

Re:Wrong way around... (1)

Hungus (585181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049439)

That has to be one of the most heinous and disgusting statements I have ever seen.

Re:Wrong way around... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27049451)

because it makes baby jesus cry

Re:Wrong way around... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049645)

The idea here would be to use stem cells created from your own skin or other tissues; thus having identical genetics and avoiding rejection.

Though for research purposes, yes, that would work. But regardless, it looks like the issue will be moot soon anyways.

 

Re:Wrong way around... (2, Informative)

CyberDong (137370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048333)

Diabetes/stem-cell research is still ongoing and in its early stages, but it is showing promise. As shown on the Mount Sinai Hospital news release [mountsinai.on.ca] , the research was actually partly funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (United States) - so they must believe there's some promise there...

Re:Wrong way around... (0)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048205)

I want a FOREskin made from stem cells.

Every Skincell is Sacred (5, Funny)

neoform (551705) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047487)

We must move to ban all exfoliating soaps! Murder!!

Re:Every Skincell is Sacred (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27047521)

Reminds me of a fairly recent Doonesbury strip:

Mike's friend: "...Do you think that most people grasp the ripple effects of a war without end, especially the thousands of families and communities whose kids have been maimed or killed? Certainly the man who caused it dosen't seem to have lost a wink of sleep over it!

Mike: "Don't think so?"

[the next panel is a view of the white house late at night...]

Laura Bush: "What's wrong, dear?"

George W. Bush: "It's the stem cells. I hear their cries!"

Clicky (1)

tpgp (48001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047737)

clicky [ucomics.com] !

Re:Every Skincell is Sacred (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27048373)

You must be a liberal atheist because you absolutely missed the ethical debate the first time around but still feel the need to be against something.

I can almost guarantee you have a mac, love starbucks, and said you voted for obama because of his politics but you were really going to vote for him because of his race yet you actually could not find the time to vote.

Re:Every Skincell is Sacred (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27048997)

Oh can I play?

Let's see if I can read you...
You proberbly voted Obama, own either a Mac or run Linux, liberal atheist who likes coffee (doesnt have to be Starbucks) just like the majority of slashdot, only your just one who is just trolling in a pathetic attempt to get enough attention to make people waste their mod points

Hitting home much?
--
Friends dont help friends read Twitter junk!

if only... (-1, Offtopic)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047493)

this research is actually very old.

Their department failed to pay any kickback to Rogers, so this news was put in one of the internet's slow tubes, and is only reaching slashdot today.

damn lack of Canadian net nutrality!

Just around the corner... (4, Insightful)

dachshund (300733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047515)

We see these stories about eight times a year. "New alternative to embryonic stem cells just around the corner". It's never clear how far around the corner it really is, though.

In any case, I'm certain that sooner or later some brilliant soul will crack this code. I can't help but wonder, though: how much scientific effort has been displaced into "finding other ways to make stem cells" that could otherwise have gone into "finding ways to use stem cells to treat medical conditions".

Re:Just around the corner... (2, Informative)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047571)

You have to remember one simple rule of thumb when you read these stories. Pretty much they'll always say "It's at least 10 years away" which is pretty much code for "I have no clue when this is coming." So the next time you read anything and you see "10 years" the guy is basically saying "I don't know."

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

soren202 (1477905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047623)

That, or stem cells are like so many other things, and will never come to fruition. Seriously, I'd put self-replicating nano bots higher up on my feasibility list than actually finding non-controversial stem cells that actually help.

Re:Just around the corner... (4, Interesting)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047887)

Just because something is controversial doesn't mean it's useless. I think you'll find that Science in general has a habit of being controversial (e.g. "Big Bang vs. God"), but that doesn't make the findings any less valuable or useful. Who knows what this research might lead into, it might be something really cool, it might be nothing, but there's a good chance that in future, OTHER research will be based upon it.

Re:Just around the corner... (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#27050635)

I think you'll find that Science in general has a habit of being controversial (e.g. "Big Bang vs. God"), but that doesn't make the findings any less valuable or useful.

I hate to correct you here, but the "Big Bang Theory" was a proposed by a Catholic Priest named Georges Lemaitre [wikipedia.org] . Lemaitre went counter to the then scientific consensus that the Universe was static, as was supported by Einstein's most recent theories. Lemaitre saw the Big Bang as proof that the universe had a beginning, or a creation, and thus a creator.

My point is that there is no conflict between religion and science in respect to the Big Bang. However, in the case of embryonic stem cells, there is a conflict, and it is not necessarily religious. The problem is that some people, regardless of their religious beliefs, see that human life is human life. That means that a human is a human, regardless of the number of cells. Of course, we can all agree that experiments on people without their consent is unethical. So, destroying a human embryo in the name of scientific research is also deemed unethical. I would like to stress that this is not exclusively a religious view. There are many people that don't think man has the wisdom to know when a human becomes a person and decides to err on the side of caution. So rather than say a zygote gains human rights when it reaches X number of cells or reaches a certain stage of development, many believe that human rights should start at the beginning, which is a single cell.

Which brings me back to the original point of the Big Bang/Religion false controversy. Many people like to paint religion as anti-science. They like to claim that anyone opposing their views is doing so in order to force their religious beliefs on those that have no interest in them. Of course, there are religious "sects" that opposed science and label it as heresy, but there are also non-religious people that think that they were anally probed by aliens. These "extremists" need to be eliminated from the discussion as they add nothing but strawmen for the other side.

The truth is that religion as a whole has nothing against stem cell research. It's the destruction of embryos (seen as people) to create stem cells that causes the conflict. Even when Bush offered funding to stem cell research (the first to do so), he banned funding for research that resulted in the destruction of human life. However, he did allow for funding to go toward embryonic stem cell research, provided it used stem cells from the then existing 71 lines of stem cells because "we should allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing stem cell lines, where the life-and-death decision has already been made." (From HERE [cnn.com] . Read the whole thing!) So, there are no limits on stem cell research, even embryonic stem cell research, provided no further embryos are destroyed to create the stem cells. And as this discovery and so many others like it show, the destruction of embryos is completely unnecessary, and merely serves to push a political agenda.

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27051087)

How does evidence/theory of a big bang contradict something that is based entirely not on evidence (if there were evidence, religion could be a science...)?

The controversy you are talking about stems from people rejecting empiricism, not from people embracing it.

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27051331)

Controversy is still controversy.

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#27051117)

Sorry, it was Big Bang vs Atheists. The strongest opposition to the Big Bang theory came from atheists, because if the Universe had a beginning that implies that it had a Creator. One of the philosophical ideas that led to the development of the scientific method is that everything that has a beginning has a cause.
By that philosophy, if the Universe had a beginning, it must have had a cause. If the Universe had a cause it is very hard to dismiss the idea of God. By that philosophy God does not need a cause because He had no beginning.

Re:Just around the corner... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27047631)

well, unless you use your own stem cells, you're going to have serious problems from anti-rejection drugs.

Re:Just around the corner... (5, Informative)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047661)

Embryonic stem cells are not that useful for treatment, even though they are very useful for research. The advantage of stem cells is that they let you grow tissue that won't be rejected, since it's identical to that of the host. Embryonic stem cells aren't the same, and thus get rejected. Thus, adult stem cells are what we want for actual treatments. Embryonic cells are just easy to do research on, IE "finding ways to use stem cells to tread medical conditions." Once you know how to do it with the embryonic cells you can use the adult cells to actually implement the treatment.

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

Adilor (857925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047711)

See, there's the distinction here. TFA makes it sound like these cells are somehow superior to the embryonic ones, where the truth is that they really just happen to better suit different purposes.

The change of not having to use a virus to make the necessary adjustment is quite the nice improvement, though. It'll really help the stability and reliability, and much lessen the risk of negative effects resulting from said viral interference.

Man, medical science these days never ceases to amaze me.

Re:Just around the corner... (5, Informative)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047895)

Embryonic stem cells can have the nucleus removed and replaced with the hosts DNA thus creating an embryonic stem cell with the DNA markers of the patient. The delay in advancing Stem cell's is at least a decade now as without use of embryonic stem cells they haven't developed the techniques to properly use them even if they do find a way to make adult version stem cells without using embryonic material.

The great fear of the abortion movement is that the public would become aware that the vast majority of embryonic material wouldn't be from abortion (where 95% of the material is mutilated tissue of little value) but the unused fertilized eggs contained in hundreds of thousands of fertility clinics around the country that are no longer needed by the parents that successfully produced children. Most importantly that these parents would then donate these unused fertilized eggs to curing diseases like Alzheimer and cancer, regrowing damaged organs or new skin for burn patients. It's ironic that the anti-abortion movement would rather see the eggs destroyed than used.

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048011)

So Big Pharma is right, the only major medical break though are done in the USA. Or, did other major countries bane the research, too? Tim S

Re:Just around the corner... (5, Insightful)

!coward (168942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048353)

Um.. You DO realize that what you refer to as "Big Pharma" are multinational business corps with many research facilities spread throughout the globe, who make extensive use of grant programs to get Universities worldwide to do some of their legwork, and who basically have their hands in pretty much all the "pies". There aren't US "Big Pharma" corps, anymore than there are European "Big Pharma".. They boil down to just a handful of entities who directly own or control hundreds (if not more) of subsidiaries, and they're ALL global players.

Yes, the fact that the previous US President banned research on (embryonic) stem cells did put a wrinkle on the worldwide research being done in the field.. On the one hand, the US market for drugs and medical treatments is too big to ignore, so there was less of an incentive to develop technologies, procedures and know-how on stuff that the big corps might not be able to deploy in such a profitable market (and thus reducing their perceived return on that investment). On the other hand, there are many great minds working in those fields in the US (both native and foreigners), often with ties to education institutions, and it wouldn't be so easy to uproot all those people just so they could send them somewhere where they could legally do/continue research.

So, for the "Big Pharma" it just made sense to look into other venues of research, or for ways to bypass the ban by using other types of cells with which you could eventually get the same results. And in this regard, while I consider the ban to have been a huge mistake (especially the totally bogus reason for said ban), we haven't really lost anything because the other venues pursued would have to be done eventually anyway, all the better that it happened when the corps were so eager to get results that could translate into money.

I don't know if there were (many) other countries following suit on the ban, but I do know that it was and still is a sensitive issue in many countries in Europe, so maybe in the end the money ended up drying in other places too.. But it hasn't been completely abandoned either, as I remember reading several studies published these last 8 years relating to research done on embryonic stem cells.

Directly and indirectly, the US does have a BIG impact in the world in many areas (which is probably why so many of us follow what happens over there so closely -- and become so obnoxiously opinionated).. But don't think others wouldn't step forward to pick up the slack if you guys over there went the Amish way, either. :)

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

theCoder (23772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27050055)

As I understand it, the USA did not outright ban stem cell research. Instead, President Bush banned the use of federal funds in research involving embryonic stem cell lines created after a certain date. Research could still continue, just not with federal money. Now, maybe this effectively banned the research, and it probably slowed it down, but it wasn't like the research was against the law.

I don't remember if President Obama is allowing federal funds to go to research with later stem cell lines.

Re:Just around the corner... (3, Insightful)

bigbird (40392) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049197)

It's ironic that the anti-abortion movement would rather see the eggs destroyed than used.

The anti-abortion movement would rather not have unused fertilized eggs lying around in the first place to create such ethical dilemmas.

And besides, using the fertilized eggs does destroy them.

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049685)

It's not ironic. Anti-abortionists have all the compassion in the world for the sick. We just don't believe that one person should be healed based on the death of another person, and in our eyes, the embryo is a person. Killing an innocent person (even one that doesn't yet have a brain) to save somebody else is not a good outcome. Depending on the variety of anti-abortionist, some (especially Catholics) reject the creation of these embryos outside of the womb in all cases because of all the moral problems that crop up because most of them will be destroyed, which is an act of violence even if most don't recognize it as such.

Re:Just around the corner... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27050613)

You would probably notice that most anti-abortion movements are against the use of IVF (as is the Catholic Church). I am against it for practical reasons - there are already enough people on earth and their are millions in orphanages just waiting to be adopted by a loving parent.

I know bashing anti-abortion movements is a Reddit and Slashdot favourite circle jerk, but it is just starting to get ridiculous. Suppose that 1 billion people will reject embryonic stem cell treatment. Now is research into adult stem cells so expensive as to forbid research into it that can be used by a billion people? If stem cell treatment takes off, wouldn't the supply from IVF be limited?

Re:Just around the corner... (2, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#27050915)

The great fear of the abortion movement is that the public would become aware that the vast majority of embryonic material wouldn't be from abortion (where 95% of the material is mutilated tissue of little value) but the unused fertilized eggs contained in hundreds of thousands of fertility clinics around the country that are no longer needed by the parents that successfully produced children.

First, there are not hundreds of thousands of fertility clinics in the US. Although, that's a nit-pic.

The main point is that your statement is a straw man. It's not that those opposed to embryonic stem cell research think that these cells will come from abortions. The problem is that these frozen embryos in these fertility clinics are thawed and encouraged to begin development before they are destroyed in order to harvest the stem cells from them. The problem is that human life is human life. Experimenting on human life without consent is considered unethical by anyone with morals above the common Nazi. Even those that support abortion rights would be against removing a live fetus for the purpose of scientific research.

No, I'm afraid that abortion is brought into this by those that support embryonic stem cell research. Abortion proponents fear that if you grant human rights to a five cell embryo (read: deem it human), then you grant human rights to all fetuses, making abortion murder. This is why they push for federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. To do so will strip zygotes of being recognized as human by law, thus further securing abortion rights. This is the goal for many that support the destruction of human embryos for the purpose of stem cell research. The fact that the research performed embryonic stem cells has produced little when compared to the advances and potential of adult derived stem cells means nothing. The push for funding for embryonic stem cells on NEW stem cell lines is for no other reason than to push a political agenda.

Further proof that this is to push an agenda:
* There is no ban on research for embryonic stem cell research. Just a ban on federal funding based on NEW stem cell lines.
* The US federal funding ban has no effect on government funding from all the other countries in the world. NASA chose Mars over Venus. The USSR went to Venus. Much of what we know about Venus is because the Soviets went there. Is that knowledge no good? Much of what the world knows about Mars is because the US went there. Knowledge is knowledge, regardless of which government funded it.
* The US funds stem cell research. Bush made a decision to focus that funding on existing stem cell lines and stem cells produced without destroying a human embryo. Protesting the US federal funding ban would be like protesting NASA for going to Mars instead of Venus.
* There is no ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research for NON-humans. Don't we experiment with mice before people? Why the rush to go straight to human trials?

Re:Just around the corner... (4, Informative)

thule (9041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047693)

Alternatives to *embryonic* stem cells are in medical trials right now. It is called adult stem cells and something like 80 real-world trials are happening right now. One of the first uses of adult stem cells goes back a few years, it is known as "bone marrow transplant."

I don't think I have heard of a single clinical trial using embryonic stem cells. That is why embryonic stem cells need government subsidies. The real money is in treatments that have hope of working.

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

LucidAU (1490755) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047931)

Why should the government subsidise embryonic stem cell trials when the harvesting of stem cells from the host will ensure that they are not rejected? If I was taking part in a clinical trial I would prefer tissue from my own stem cells over a lifetime of anti-rejection drugs.

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

MPolo (129811) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049079)

I think your parent had some sarcasm in the last sentence that you missed. Embyronic stem cells need government funding because no sane entrepreneur would waste his money on a treatment that has no chance of working. Or at least that's what I understood.

Unfortunately, I think the real story is that if someone gets embryonic stem cells to work somehow, he will patent the process to make a fortune out of it. The pharmaceutical companies want to get to this holy grail, but don't want to risk their own money on a long shot, so they demand government funding. Whereas the adult stem cells are saving lives today (but not getting the pharmaceutical companies rich). I heard a couple years ago about a German experiment that cured a congenital heart disfunction with donor-supplied stem cells. This cost a total of 200 or 300 euros.

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049689)

I heard a couple years ago about a German experiment that cured a congenital heart disfunction with donor-supplied stem cells. This cost a total of 200 or 300 euros.

I'd really like to see an article on this, if I could.

You see, this sort of thing would require at least two medical procedures and lab work; extraction, lab modification/screening, implantation.

For the heart, I don't see implantation being cheap, I don't see the labwork being cheap, etc... Either they're talking about a very limited selection of the costs(national healthcare took care of the rest!), or there's a few zeros missing in there.

It it's true, and really that cheap, you'd think it'd have been trumpeted across the airwaves.

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

MPolo (129811) | more than 5 years ago | (#27050605)

I only saw it on the German television news, and that means it was pretty fluff-oriented, but the impression I had was that they simply withdrew some of her bone marrow, treated this in a lab, and injected it into the heart muscle.

I don't even know the precise nature of the ailment that was corrected, just that they stressed the difference in price tag to a traditional surgery.

Re:Just around the corner... (-1, Troll)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048109)

Don't blame the scientists for their focus. Blame the Christians. (-1 Informative?)

Embryonic cells have the same problems (1)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048457)

Even though some people keep painting embryonic stem cells as the holy grail of stem cell research, this is quite frankly rubbish. Unless they are your own cells you face the same rejection and immune defence problems with embryonic stem cells as you would with any donated organ.

Until we figure out human cloning (which is another ethical issue), embryonic stem cells are only interesting in that they are an easy source of stem cells for study. The most obvious path at present for actually using stem cells in treatment is harvesting them from the patient.

Regardless of embryonic stem cells worked better in the short term, in the long term we would need to deal with their side effects. Being on immune suppressants for the rest of your life is not fun.

Re:Just around the corner... (1)

treddy (1445685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048591)

how much scientific effort has been displaced into "finding other ways to make stem cells" that could otherwise have gone into "finding ways to use stem cells to treat medical conditions".

The key difference here is that, ideally, you'd like to be treated with your own stem cells. Think organ transplants -- you could get stem cells from some embryonic source, but your body would likely reject them. I'm not a proponent of recent science-policy regarding stem cells but, in retrospect, these "workarounds" may end up being critical discoveries on the path to cell-based therapy.

Re:Just around the corner... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27049983)

We see these stories about eight times a year. "New alternative to embryonic stem cells just around the corner". It's never clear how far around the corner it really is, though.

The ironic thing is that we have had "treatments from embryonic stem cell research just around the corner" news continuously for years but nothing has yet emerged. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, are already being used in numerous treatments.

Not quite... (4, Insightful)

GravitonMan (1145905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047537)

They haven't shown that the cells can actually differentiate into any cell type. They have just shown that they express the biological markers that make it look like a pluipotent stem cell. Meaning that expresses a few surface markers that they tested. That dosen't mean that it can turn into any type of stem cell. I wouldn't hold my breathe.
Killing babies still has a much better chance of growing me a new liver.

/bring me another beer!

Re:Not quite... (5, Insightful)

heatseeker_around (1246024) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047679)

as my wife (who does research and writes articles in neuroscience) says: 90% of the research is to find something enough interesting to get more money for your researches. It's not bad, it simply is how it works in science research. When you write an article, you always have to project your discovery into the future and tell how it will (not would) affect and save the life of many sick people, even if you know it will happen in 100 years at last.

Re:Not quite... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047847)

as my wife (who does research and writes articles in neuroscience) says: 90% of the research is to find something enough interesting to get more money for your researches.
It's not bad, it simply is how it works in science research. When you write an article, you always have to project your discovery into the future and tell how it will (not would) affect and save the life of many sick people, even if you know it will happen in 100 years at last.

Loftiest "That's what she said!" evar.

Also as important... (3, Interesting)

Y.A.A.P. (1252040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047723)

The question of whether these cells can be re-differentiated without using a virus to reprogram the cells is an important question yet to be answered from this research.

There is another important question to be addressed with this technique, however.

The article mentions cancer as a side effect for virus-engineered stem cells and immune rejection for stem cells from other people.

Would this technique manage to create stem cell-derived new cells without their own set of side effects?

Cancer is assumed as a side effect of the virus-engineered stem cells only. Since any tissue being made from converted stem cells is put through accelerated growth, what safeguards are there against tumor growth (cancerous or non-cancerous) with this new technique?

I ask this since I read another article noted tumor growth at stem-cell graft sites is common. That article didn't note whether these cases were from virus-engineered stem cells or not.

Re:Not quite... (1)

Iraneus (1112535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047891)

Anyone care to count the useful (efficacious, "safe" for the recipient) therapies delivered from embryonic stem cells? It's actually easy - none. Despite this, let's assume knock-it-out-of-park efficaciousness for embryonic stem cell research (just for the sake of this discussion) ... what about that "killing babies" thing ... ok or not? I say "not" ... as does the preponderance of human history.

Re:Not quite... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049721)

I think the idea is that with a lot of research done with embryos that are dead* to begin with, that we'd learn more about the stem cell process and have a better idea of what to do with our adult stem cells to either transform them into 'younger' versions or turn them directly into cell types that we need.

I think it says something when Europe, with over double the population of the USA, can't simply bypass our refusal to federally fund one research path by allocating more funding to it and cornering the 'market'.

*IE never going to make it to implantation and potential babyhood. IVF rejects are more suitable than abortion remains.

Re:Not quite... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27051293)

During the preponderance of human history, women were pregnant all the time (except when lactating), and babies were killed if there wasn't enough food. Only relatively recently has life been secure enough to make it a choice.

Re:Not quite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27048181)

If you're waiting 9 months to harvest stem cells, you're doing it wrong.

Re:Not quite... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048419)

Unless it's diseased, most of your liver can grow back on it's own.

Re:Not quite... (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049505)

Unless it's diseased, most of your liver will still be there to begin with ?

Re:Not quite... (1)

mavi_yelken (801565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049637)

Induced pluripotent cells (which they generated here) are actually shown to be able to differentiate into many many cell types. Indeed the next step is to test their properties in more detail but literature suggests it will work with a high probability. Here directly from wikipedia:

Pluripotency: iPSCs were capable of differentiation in a fashion similar to ESCs into fully differentiated tissues.

        * Neural Differentiation: iPSCs were differentiated into neurons, expressing βIII-tubulin, tyrosine hydroxylase, AADC, DAT, ChAT, LMX1B, and MAP2. The presence of catecholamine-associated enzymes may indicate that iPSCs, like hESCs, may be differentiable into dopaminergic neurons. Stem cell-associated genes were downregulated after differentiation.
        * Cardiac Differentiation: iPSCs were differentiated into cardiomyocytes that spontaneously began beating. Cardiomyocytes expressed TnTc, MEF2C, MYL2A, MYHCβ, and NKX2.5. Stem cell-associated genes were downregulated after differentiation.
        * Teratoma Formation: iPSCs injected into immunodeficient mice spontaneously formed teratomas after nine weeks. Teratomas are tumors of multiple lineages containing tissue derived from the three germ layers endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm; this is unlike other tumors, which typically are of only one cell type. Teratoma formation is a landmark test for pluripotency.
        * Embryoid Body: hESCs in culture spontaneously form ball-like embryo-like structures termed "embryoid bodies", which consist of a core of mitotically active and differentiating hESCs and a periphery of fully differentiated cells from all three germ layers. iPSCs also form embryoid bodies and have peripheral differentiated cells.
        * Blastocyst Injection: hESCs naturally reside within the inner cell mass (embryoblast) of blastocysts, and in the embryoblast, differentiate into the embryo while the blastocyst's shell (trophoblast) differentiates into extraembryonic tissues. The hollow trophoblast is unable to form a living embryo, and thus it is necessary for the embryonic stem cells within the embryoblast to differentiate and form the embryo. iPSCs were injected by micropipette into a trophoblast, and the blastocyst was transferred to recipient females. Chimeric living mouse pups were created: mice with iPSC derivatives incorporated all across their bodies with 10%-90& chimerism.

Re:Not quite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27050265)

Killing babies still has a much better chance of growing me a new liver.

I detect that sarcasm. But I think this discussion seems to dismiss the moral ramifications of what we do when we use embryonic stem cells. It is true that we learn a lot through their use, but didn't the Nazis also learn a lot from human testing on Jews? Just something to think about.

Re:Not quite... (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27050757)

Killing babies still has a much better chance of growing me a new liver.

I know you were trying for humor, but don't fall into the pro-lifer's trap of calling fetus' "babies." In fact, at the stage that most embryonic stem cells are harvested, it isn't even a fetus. It's a blastocyst ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blastocyst [wikipedia.org] ). The pro-lifer's want people to have images in their heads of sweet, innocent babies sitting there cooing while evil scientists sharpen their knives, slaughter them, and cackle wildly as they "process" them into stem cells.

The dirty little secret that they don't like acknowledging is that most of these embryos come from leftover eggs from fertility treatments. Either the couples have had enough kids and have eggs left over, or they don't have any more money to continue. (IVF is very expensive.) These eggs aren't going to be stuck in the back of a freezer somewhere for some other couple, they'll be incinerated as medical waste. So when pro-lifers stop embryonic stem cell research, they're really sending the embryos off to be destroyed. If they really wanted to "save" these embryos, they would lobby for new laws that would a) make IVF illegal or b) make destruction of leftover eggs illegal. Neither of these options is realistic, though, and would meet with heavy opposition. The pro-lifers realize this and so they attack the low hanging fruit of embryonic stem cells, ignoring that those eggs are headed to the incinerator.

As a side note, I've heard that the octopulet mother had 18 eggs left over. She had 2 rounds each with 6 eggs implanted that failed and then a third round of 6 eggs implanted that turned into 8 babies. She said that she didn't want those eggs destroyed. Fair enough, they were her eggs. Of course, the option she ignored was that she could have donated (possibly even sold) them to childless couples. If she donated 3 eggs per couple (the usual amount inserted at one time), she could have helped 6 couples have babies instead of having 8 more kids to take care of herself.

Killer stem cells (1)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047561)

Wouldn't it be so much cooler if the headline had read "Advance In Making Killer Stem Cells From Skin?"

Lame lame lame (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047577)

Make stem cells the way nature intended: from aborted fetuses.

Quit wimping around.

Re:Lame lame lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27047705)

Too bad your mother made the wrong choice.

Re:Lame lame lame (3, Insightful)

drosboro (1046516) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047721)

And deal with anti-rejection drugs? I'd rather not.

Clearly it's rather early on, but this does seem like a promising advance... it would be interesting to see if the same technique could be used in other areas - delivering useful genes to somatic cells, cancer cells, etc. It might have interesting implications for gene therapy research.

Re:Lame lame lame... so, then, Mr. Smarty Pants... (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048187)

What's the REAL skinny on this?

Re:Lame lame lame (1)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049273)

Oblig Southpark :

[B]Cartman[/B]: Hello. Is this the University of Colorado Biology Department? Great, uh I understand you're currently doing research on stem cells? Cool, because I'm currently in possession of some aborted fetuses that I'm looking to unload? Uh, how much do you pay? No, no, come on, I got a guy who's gonna give me eighty dollars a pound right now. How about a hundred? Oh you're breaking my balls! I'll think about it.

[B]Cartman[/B]: Bosnod Medical Group? Yeah, I called earlier about the stem cells and the fetuses? Okay, hi Randy, yeah. Oh yes, they've been kept in a cool temperature, yeah. They're supremo fetuses, Randy, I wouldn't jerk you around. So what can your company give me for 'em? Oh Randy, you're breaking my balls here.

[B]Cartman[/B]: Oh please! Okay, you tell me where you can get aborted fetuses for seventy cents on the dollar? You tell me, Chuck? Yeah, I didn't think so! You know, I'm just like the fetuses, Chuck. I wasn't born yesterday, either.

[B]Cartman[/B]: I gotta unload these fetuses, you wanna do some research. Are we talking here or what? You're breaking my balls. I'm telling you, if you let this deal pass you by, you're making a fetal mistake. ...A hundred ten. Alright, alright, we got a deal. Good bye.

[B]Cartman[/B]: Damn I'm good.

in my opinion (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27047647)

fuck kdawson. he's a meaningless sack of dog shit.

Re:in my opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27047893)

So are you the sack or the shit?

Unlimited stem cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27047677)

I'm holding out for stem cells from Dupes.

Re:Unlimited stem cells (3, Funny)

jcwayne (995747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047853)

Dupes are the left over stem cells that refused to differentiate.

article (2, Interesting)

ccharlot (1490733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047683)

Any way to access the article without paying through the nose?

Re:article (2, Informative)

drosboro (1046516) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047699)

Not without being a university student (or something like that)...

However, the abstract is available here:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nature07863.html [nature.com]

Re:article (5, Informative)

drosboro (1046516) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047707)

Oh, and there's a news story linked from Nature's front page on the topic:

http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090227/full/458019a.html [nature.com]

It also links to a second paper at:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nature07864.html [nature.com]

Jumping Genes (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049911)

It turns out they didn't use viruses, but instead transposons to get their genetic code in a cell. The catch is that transposons (aka jumping genes [wikipedia.org] ) are mutagenic. They did use a certain enzyme in mouse cells to remove them, but it's still possible they caused damage to the DNA. If it can be safely removed, that's great, but I'd be a little nervous about this approach.

It may be possible to achieve the same approach using raw strands of RNA that never modifies the DNA, but I'm sure smarter people than me may know reasons why that's difficult.

By the way... (3, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047703)

The universities in the study in question are both public universities. This is government science funding at work; its a shame it isn't US government science funding.

Re:By the way... (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27050513)

Because the United States is the only source for medical advances in the world. If it was really that big of a deal there is nothing stopping the EU from donating money to the research.

Re:By the way... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27051003)

Because the United States is the only source for medical advances in the world

Did you somehow reach that odd conclusion by reading what I wrote? Because I said nothing to support such a wholly inaccurate statement. In my own research I have collaborators from several other countries; my statement was indeed more of a criticism of how inadequate our science research funding is in the states, while simultaneously pointing out that the prestige given to private schools is not always deserved.

The real deal - now if we can just get funding... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27047749)

Disclaimer - I work with these guys on occasion.

I am an hESC biologist, and this stuff is quite significant. I expect iPS cells will take over from hESC in the near to mid-term future (5-10 years). Not that I have any problems with hESC, but as a professional in the field, if they can do the same things and not bother people as much, why not? It's worth noting though that this would never have happened without research on embryonic stem cells to allow us to identify the culture conditions etc necessary to maintain puripotence. This lab is not-coincidentally also one of the few Canadian labs licensed to make new hESC lines from discarded blastocysts. Also worth noting that iPS lines will eliminate some of the ethical issues around hESC - but definitely not all of them. This will be particularly important in the U.S. IIRC - Canadian law on hESC is defined around pluripotence (e.g. it includes human iPSC), whereas I don't think this is the case south of the border.

In a timely juxtaposition, the other primary front-page story in today's Globe and Mail was about cutbacks to Canadian research funding. While you guys get Obama and an extra $10bn to the NIH, we are stuck with a conservative government and losing hundreds of millions from our research councils [theglobeandmail.com] . Our Minister of Science and Technology (a chiropractor FFS) apparently screamed at representatives of the national organization of University professors and stomped out of the room when asked about it.

For those Canadians reading this: Canadian scientists are among the best in the world. We can compete on this and many other playing fields - but we need stable, non-politicized funding, most particularly for basic research like this. Industry will not do this kind of work, the profits are too far down the road. Our government needs to stop playing silly power games, and pay attention to the task at hand, before we lose a lot of these top players to the U.S.

Please write (snail-mail as always is both free [parl.gc.ca] and most effective) your MP and encourage them to support scientific research in Canada. If nothing else, when the bailout money runs out and the carmakers finally go belly up, this is where the next generation of jobs will come from.

Re:The real deal - now if we can just get funding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27051409)

don't worry, when the US is in a pre-WWII Germany state with a crushing load of debt, we'll actually have a stable government. Well, they're fucking there already, but close enough.

What is ethics? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047767)

Is ethics the business of identifying rules regarding what we'd feel bad for having done, so that we can avoid guilty feelings?

I can kind of understand theists' reasons for striving to act in a moral/ethical way, but I've never gotten a clear explanation of why non-theists would put energy into ethics (medical ethics, in this case).

Re:What is ethics? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27047851)

Wow that's a loaded question. Assuming you are not a troller I will try to answer as best I can. Some schools of ethics rely on the presence of a higher power, while IMHO the more stable and logical schools follow the 'least amount of harm' philosophy. The question needs to be asked, will more harm come to society if we use embryonic stem cells or if we avoid them. In this case it seems to me that the answer is using them causes no harm, which is why the Canadian government cannot find a reason to ban the use of embryonic material

Re:What is ethics? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27050481)

Wow that's a loaded question. Assuming you are not a troller I will try to answer as best I can. Some schools of ethics rely on the presence of a higher power, while IMHO the more stable and logical schools follow the 'least amount of harm' philosophy. The question needs to be asked, will more harm come to society if we use embryonic stem cells or if we avoid them. In this case it seems to me that the answer is using them causes no harm, which is why the Canadian government cannot find a reason to ban the use of embryonic material

I didn't meant my question as a troll. Actually, I don't even understand why you're saying it's loaded. I guess I have a lot more reading to do.

But anyway, even with the "least amount of harm" idea, what's the plenary motivation for pursuing it? Is it basically that a person tries to work out and/or apply (in this case, medical) ethics with a goal of maximizing a feeling of moral goodness and/or minimizing feelings of guilt?

Re:What is ethics? (1)

arekusu_ou (1344373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27051295)

I think part of the ethics is also, would we have a problem with someone else doing it? Part of that is a race for "defensive" power like the atom bomb or mutual insured destruction. But another part is, we wouldn't want our enemies to be using e. coli like bio-weapons, so we shouldn't.

Theist may fear a vengeful higher power, but people, theist or not, would fear repercussions from our peers. Repercussions is what keeps our society running. Keeping the majority of people "law-abiding" the majority of the time. Fear of which acting as our conscience, making us second guess unethical actions.

A person may be morally ambigious, but if he thought about it, he'd know that he'd get in trouble for killing. He may not understand why, in his heart, but he'll know in his head that there'd be a punishment if he's caught killing without justify.

what's all the fuss about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27047779)

I collected stem cells from the stalk of a dandelion last summer. It's no big deal.

only a matter of time. (2, Insightful)

schwillis (1073082) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047841)

I find it funny when people go on about stem cell research and how it's always promised it will be around the corner, 10 years away. Stem cell research only had enough potential for the public to get excited about about 10 years ago, and now, about 10 years latter their has already been amazing successes using stem cell treatments, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. it's makeing steady progress, and it's the most amazing medical advancement since the concept of organ transplants started looking like it might be possible.

Re:only a matter of time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27051333)

How many years will it be until you learn to spell the words later, there, have, and making?

What is the real goal of this? (0, Troll)

jirf88 (1453921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047909)

Another amazing medical breakthrough just around the corner... One can't help but become a little sceptical about the motives behind those who always seem to promise much yet not deliver? More often than not it feels like a stab at some good PR for a company who has had bad press recently... The work these guys do is truly amazing but I do feel that where the money is coming from is usually a less than desirable source who would only be interested in charging an arm and a leg for a new heart or a brain... Call me an antitrust conspiracy theorist.....

No cures forthcoming (2, Insightful)

littlewink (996298) | more than 5 years ago | (#27047917)

...doctors may be one step closer to treating a multitude of diseases, including Alzheimer's, diabetes and Parkinson's.

To which I say "Horseshit!" The day that American medicine finds a cure for cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes and Parkinson's is the day that American medicine goes out of business. Doctors, HMOs, big pharma and hospitals are too busy making money off the sick to fix these problems.

We've been paying for a war on cancer for over 50 years and don't have a cure; surgery remains butchery; antibiotics are losing their effectiveness; no significant inroads against viruses have been made. The American medical establishment needs a radical dollar-ectomy in the form of

  • reduced requirements for an M.D.,
  • More use of computerized diagnostic systems,
  • increased specialization to the point of effectiveness,
  • tracking of success rates and costs of individual doctors.

"One step closer" doesn't mean anything when you're miles from home.

Re:No cures forthcoming (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048363)

Ron Paul? Is that you? :)

Re:No cures forthcoming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27048501)

Good job America isn't the only country in the world really, isn't it?

Re:No cures forthcoming (4, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049793)

To which I say "Horseshit!" The day that American medicine finds a cure for cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes and Parkinson's is the day that American medicine goes out of business. Doctors, HMOs, big pharma and hospitals are too busy making money off the sick to fix these problems.

Then why hasn't Europe, Canada, or Australia, with national healthcare systems, found cures? Surely it'd be in their best interests to cure stuff?

We've successfully cured cancer lots of times. The problem is that there's millions of versions of cancer; heck, you could say everybody who gets cancer gets their own, personalized version. A person can get cancer, completely separate, unrelated cancers, multiple times. Alzheimer's is ultimately fatal. A living patient is more likely to pay money for healthcare in the future than a dead one. They actually cured type 1 diabetes a couple times; they're working on fixing a problematic side effect(90% of the test group got cancer from the treatment). I think they're working on some gene therapies for parkinson's, not sure, have to head to work.

Cancer's worse than the common cold for variants; surgery has gotten a lot better(laparoscope and such); welcome to evolution; vaccines still work great.

1. No way - we have enough problems with medical malpractice. I'd like to fire the worst 2% or so.
2. Agreed. Medical knowledge has significantly outpaced the ability of a MD to store it in his head
3. There's a limit to how much you can specialize; everything in the human body interrelates. I'm serious. Dentists need to know some heart stuff because messing around with your teeth can screw up your heart.
4. Good idea; goes along with my idea of firing the worst 2% or so.

Slashdot eds, please, do the world a favor. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27047939)

Stop posting shit like, %technologyX% will be available in %Ynumberofyears% from %unreliablemediasourceZ% because you all know that anyone reading this today, will be long dead before %technologyX% becomes a reality. You 'fucking smart science guys [slashdot.org] ' and your 'five-to-ten-years-out' bullshit can get fucked. You publish this shit to get morons with more money than brains to invest in your 'life-saving' projects when you know full well that there isn't a chance in Hell that this will ever make it to human trials in the lifetimes of anyone alive today. Stop holding out false hope to the world when you haven't even a clue as to how any of %technologyX% actually works or how you could apply it to today's problems.

Canadians found something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27048145)

"...thanks to a Canadian team of researchers who, together with a team out of Scotland, has found a safe way to grow stem cells from a patient's own skin."

Really? I guess they're putting "a safe way to grow stem cells from a patient's own skin" in the bottom of a box of donuts now...

This doesn't eliminate the need for the real thing (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27048459)

I recently saw a talk by Rudolf Jaenisch, who is one of the pioneers in this field. He stressed that while there is great hope for iPS cells, they underscore the need for more work done with actual embryonic lines. The first iPS cells made in 2006 couldn't do the same things as the newer lines that are made today, and the lines that are made today can't do all the things that some embryonic lines can do. We need to do much more research to characterize the embryonic lines to understand what makes them special and able to do the things that they can do so that we'll be able to make iPS with the same properties and therapeutic possibilities. So sure, in the future, we may be doing all our treatment with iPS cells, we still have a long way to go with quality embryonic lines before we can get to that point.

bad timing, huh? (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#27048841)

I bet they'll have this perfected in 2 years. Good thing Obama went all liberal early and decided to speak out totally pro-embryonic stem cell research. It's not like he didn't know this sort of thing was being developed for the last few years. So what's the big problem here? He burnt up so many political points saying "yay, let's chop up human babies!" and all the conservatives modded him down as flamebait lol. He could have just remained on the fence or refused to comment about the issue until it was no longer and issue instead of forcing himself to appear even more liberal to all of America.

Why did they sick it in the first place? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049323)

This is the more important question. But somehow, doctors, the phamaceutic industy, and "health" insurance companies do not care at all about it.
The only thing I ever hear is "We found out how to fix this, and that.". Never "We found out how you can prevent yourself from ever getting this."

As long as the medical "science" does not concentrate on prevention, they're still stuck in the middle-ages.
For example all the so-called "diseases of old-age" can be back-traced to eating bad food for decades, toxins/dangers in the environment, not processed psychological traumata, and bad genetic mutations (in contrast to good ones).
Simply because this are the only causes there are.

The problem is, that most of the symptoms start a decade after the original problem started. And the other problem is, that all that industry lives on people being sick instead of being healthy. But we already know that.

In the end, when it comes to really fixing your problem, you always are on your own. Find the real cause, and remove it from your life. Bad food is 90% of that. As proven by Dr. med. M.O. Bruker in decades of treating thousands of patients. I don't know if there is a non-German version of his book(s) though. :/

The god squad will ban it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27049387)

Some bunch of dogooder, god squad, save the planet loonies will find a away to ban skin or parts thereof. We should be way more advanced with embryonic stem cells.

Bring on the Moral Wizards (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049741)

The supposed ethical issues with embryonic stem cells were a red herring. What the loonies really want is no stem cell work at all to take place. So now the self appointed guardians of morals and ethics must put on their pointy hats and try to find a way to declare skin cell derived stem cells immoral.
            How moral or ethical is it for these ignorant idiots to have opinions in the first place?

Re: Bring on the Moral Wizards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27049913)

That's the funny thing about the "Jesus-buffs". You can never know what they will come up with next. Just wait and see, I guess.

I think the basic problem they have is that their faith is based on reasoning such as:

1. I don't understand how X works.
2. I read several articles in Christian magazines that state that X is an unsolvable mystery.
3. X is an unsolvable mystery.
4. God created X.
5. God exists.
6. Jesus was his son.
7. Jesus died on the cross, for our sins.

But if, God forbid, a scientist should solve the mystery of problem X, the Jesus-buffs have to find a new problem, Y, to insert into this brilliant line of reasoning.

Re: Bring on the Moral Wizards (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#27051351)

The supposed ethical issues with embryonic stem cells were a red herring. What the loonies really want is no stem cell work at all to take place. So now the self appointed guardians of morals and ethics must put on their pointy hats and try to find a way to declare skin cell derived stem cells immoral.

            How moral or ethical is it for these ignorant idiots to have opinions in the first place?

Strawman! Absolutely not true. No one has a problem with adult derived stem cells.
OK, sure, there are the fringe kooks, but there are also people who think that the human race should go extinct for the good of the planet. These people are discounted and with good reason. So, labeling those that are against killing human embryos for scientific research as being against ALL stem cell research is the same as me labeling you one who WANTS to kill human embryos to aid in human extinction. Both would be a load of crap. The only difference is that I'm not shoveling the crap, you are.

Amusing in a pathetic way (3, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27049905)

...that the bulk of the comments here are some sort of ridicule for the Christian Right, instead of plaudits for the idea of an advancement that makes the 'farming' of stem cells morally neutral.

Are we really so shallow that rather than confronting someone else's (and it's not a trivial % of the populace) genuine moral questions in sympathy, that we simply mock them? Don't bother replying, we all know the answer.

I don't necessarily agree with the concept that every zygote is sacred; nevertheless I can well see the difficulty of harvesting something from those zygotes for the people who do. (More accurately stated, their fear that there will be a sudden discovery of 'value' in these zygotes, inspiring the full range morality-free behaviors which typically characterize humans when confronted by something of value.) What's more ironic is that the unbelievable, staggering values that's been postulated for embryonic stem cells remains apparently that after all these years: apparently the entire world outside the US is furiously researching uses for these cells, as well as any US lab capable of operating free of the US gov't largesse, but nobody's managed to come up with a real-world useful therapy yet? Curious.

To get back to the point, I feel however that Christians' furor over stem cells would be more accurately directed at the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of fertilized eggs 'disposed of' in the artificial insemination process every year...but that cat is well out of its particular bag, culturally speaking.

I find it equally ironic that some of people that rail against the 'naive' Christians for their 'ridiculous' discomfort at harvesting a resource from zygotes, are some of the same people who express outrage at the ripping of inorganic resources from a not-potentially-a-person ground. I guess it just depends where a person sees value.

Whooo-hooo (1)

Gonzodoggy (118747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27050943)

maybe now we can stop killing babies

Skin? (1)

arekusu_ou (1344373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27050971)

I'm surprised no one wondered yet, are they doing this with "dead skin cells" that flake off, or do they need living tissue? I find it hard to believe that can use viruses to mutate dead cells, and though it's not as bad as the pound of flesh Shylock demanded, I wonder how much flesh they need. If you remember from an episode of House, where Cameron takes a scalpel and slices off a chunk of skin from the old patient, causing it to bleed. That's the image I got when I read this.

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