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Neurons Created Directly From Skin Cells

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the largest-organ-of-the-body dept.

Biotech 231

alx5000 writes "The Times is running a story about a neurologic breakthrough that could revolutionise treatments for conditions such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's: Neurons have been created directly from skin cells for the first time. Quoting neurobiologist Professor Jack Price: 'This suggests that there are no great rules — you can reprogramme anything into anything else.' The article also points out that this method could work around the ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem-cell research."

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231 comments

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sweet (0)

Dayofswords (1548243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30941972)

but where will south park turn to for jokes? skin cells are not that funny

Re:sweet (4, Funny)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942118)

It all depends on where they get the skin, and from whom.

Re:sweet (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942140)

Not to mention how.

Re:sweet (-1, Troll)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942198)

Hey! It's not my fault that babies' skin makes the smarted neuron cells! I've got to eat too you know. (babies that is)

So: sweet (4, Funny)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942588)

Fine, fine, I accept the mod. I still say eating babies is funny, but there's no excuse for misspelling "smartest". That's just dum.

Re:So: sweet (1)

net28573 (1516385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943328)

I'm kinda curious as to why you were modded insightfull and not funny. I would assume you were trying to be funny because you mispelled the word dumb. Either you were trying to be funny or... XD (rotflmao).

Re:sweet (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942938)

From skinny nerds, obviously. Doubles the effect!

Re:sweet (0)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942130)

Q: why is phoning your mom like sluffing skin ? A: one is making a phone call, the other is making a clone fall....

Re:sweet (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942574)

I don't get it. That joke in no way implied that my mom was fat or a whore. How is that funny?

Re:sweet (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943238)

One's making a phone call, the other is making a clone fall... to a whore!

Wait, lemme try that again.

Re:sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30942640)

sluffing -> sloughing

So, wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30941986)

...The next time I tell one of my users to get off their ass because they're depriving their brain of oxygen, it'll be more than a snarky, shit-headed remark?

Perfect explanation (2, Funny)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942010)

So that's why they cut of the foreskin.

Re:Perfect explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30942232)

So that's why they cut of the foreskin.

You're only at the tip of the iceberg in relation to this mystery. Go down deeper!

Re:Perfect explanation (1, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942376)

If your brain was repaired with foreskin neurons, someone could call you smeghead and it wouldn't be an insult.

Re:Perfect explanation (3, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942418)

So that's why they cut of the foreskin.

Actually, yes. The foreskin contains about 90% of the nerve endings on the penis. It's rather barbaric that this country is one of the few in the western world that routinely mutilates male anatomy -- many parents often not even knowing why it's done, only that everybody else does it. more info [indra.com] . For the very few men that have been circumsized as an adult and had an opportunity to experience sex both ways -- they say that sex is very disappointing after. Some become suicidally depressed.

Re:Perfect explanation (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942890)

Right, because the brain of a baby isn't going to repurpose those neurons in the brain for the surrounding area, you know the rest of the penis.
I don't remember exactly what it's called but it is closely related to phantom limb, it may not work out so well for an adult but in a baby's brain it'll be fine.

Re:Perfect explanation (1, Funny)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942936)

It's not only neurons and nerve endings but the very real fact it's going to look like a loose old sock uncut.

Re:Perfect explanation (2, Insightful)

DrGamez (1134281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943674)

And your feet look weird, lets shave off that ugly pinky toe. And why do we have earlobes if we aren't going to wear anything there? Snip those as well. You're saying parts of the human body look weird, so we should take them off before the person can say otherwise - got it.

Re:Perfect explanation (3, Insightful)

Kozz (7764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943040)

Actually, yes. The foreskin contains about 90% of the nerve endings on the penis. It's rather barbaric that this country is one of the few in the western world that routinely mutilates male anatomy -- many parents often not even knowing why it's done, only that everybody else does it. more info [indra.com] .

Read, please. [wikipedia.org] "Barbaric" and "mutilate" are highly emotionally charged words. I'm a father. I've got two sons. I was circ'ed as an infant, as were both of my boys. I asked all the questions -- is it necessary, is it recommended, why or why not, etc. I decided to go ahead, and I know exactly why I made that choice based on scientific data. If someone else is informed of the scientific data and chooses against circumcision, I fully respect that and have no problem with it. I can tell you that the child displayed little evidence of pain, as I was right there with the doc as it was done, and it heals quite quickly. And no, not "everybody else" does it. The number of uncircumsized males in the US is increasing, actually. You might find the numbers surprising if you have time to look it up.

For the very few men that have been circumsized as an adult and had an opportunity to experience sex both ways -- they say that sex is very disappointing after. Some become suicidally depressed.

Which, by your admission, is a tremendously small number of the male population. And if you become suicidally depressed because you're having disappointing intercourse, I'm guessing it's not just about the intercourse.

Re:Perfect explanation (4, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943638)

Why not let your sons decide if they want to be circumcised? Why force what is essentially either plastic surgery or an amputation onto an infant?

I am a firm believer in personal freedom. If adults want to be circumcised, I see no reasons they shouldn't be allowed to be, whether they are male or female. But doing it to an infant ... that's a line I'm very much against.

Re:Perfect explanation (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943860)

Because when the kid is old enough to decide to get circumcised, he will want it to have happened when he was an infant, while if he is circumcised he won't know what he is missing. Choosing to circumcise is thus the easy choice despite its irreversibility; and parents will make many more arbitrary yet momentous decisions for their children.

Re:Perfect explanation (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30944184)

Choosing to circumcise is thus the easy choice despite its irreversibility; and parents will make many more arbitrary yet momentous decisions for their children.

It's a lie to perpetuate stereotypes -- just like how we flip coins to determine the sex of intersexed babies. Sometimes the doctor doesn't even tell the parents. And every now and then, we make a mistake -- but we don't want to admit it because it's socially acceptable and to question circumcision is tandamount to questioning the church.

Re:Perfect explanation (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 4 years ago | (#30944306)

There should be no reason we are forcing Jewish/Muslim genital mutilation on children. For one, it tortures the infant. It's a very unnecessary and painful procedure, it's strange that you can't torture children with unneeded electrical shocks or other abuse yet you can slice baby genitals and get away with it under the guise of "cosmetics."

Re:Perfect explanation (4, Interesting)

Tenek (738297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943778)

I'm a mother. I've got two daughters. I was circ'ed as a girl, as were both of my daughters. I asked all the questions -- is it necessary, is it recommended, why or why not, etc. I decided to go ahead and I know exactly why I made that choice based on scientific data. If someone else is informed of the scientific data and chooses against circumcision, I fully respect that and have no problem with it. I can tell you that the child displayed little evidence of pain, as I was right there with the doc as it was done, and it heals quite quickly. And no, not "everybody else" does it. The number of uncircumcised females in the US is increasing, actually. You might find the numbers surprising if you have time to look it up.

Re:Perfect explanation (1, Redundant)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30944344)

Isn't the number of uncircumcised females in the US almost 100%, at least outside of immigrants?

Re:Perfect explanation (1, Offtopic)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30944160)

can tell you that the child displayed little evidence of pain, as I was right there with the doc as it was done, and it heals quite quickly.

Liar. It hurts -- a lot [google.com] . [Warning: Link is to a surgical demonstration video of the circumcision of a male baby.]

And no, not "everybody else" does it. The number of uncircumsized males in the US is increasing, actually. You might find the numbers surprising if you have time to look it up.

I did [cirp.org] .

Which, by your admission, is a tremendously small number of the male population. And if you become suicidally depressed because you're having disappointing intercourse, I'm guessing it's not just about the intercourse.

You wouldn't know... you've never had sex with your foreskin intact.

Re:Perfect explanation (0)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943534)

It's been said that circumcision reduces the chances of STDs and cancer for both partners. Second, many women prefer cut men because it's "cleaner" when performing fellatio. Third, I've read stories that circumcised men also "last longer" in bed because the feeling isn't as intense for them compared to an uncircumcised man.

So girl, if it's better for you and him, why do you care if he's cut or not?

Re:Perfect explanation (1)

keeboo (724305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30944182)

It's been said that circumcision reduces the chances of STDs and cancer for both partners.

Have you heard about... how's that called... ah, "basic hygiene"?
Water, soap... Wash it at least once a day.

Now if you're having sex with random women (or men, if that applies) and you do not take the proper precautions, being circumcised won't save you from STDs.

Second, many women prefer cut men because it's "cleaner" when performing fellatio.

I've never heard complaints. I admit, though, that circumcision is rather rare where I live.
Unless the guy is particularly unhygienic, I don't think that women can complain, considering it applies the other way around too.

Third, I've read stories that circumcised men also "last longer" in bed because the feeling isn't as intense for them compared to an uncircumcised man.

If you've got severe problems with premature ejaculation it might sound like a good idea.
As for me, I would rather keep my parts intact and enjoy the moment.

Re:Perfect explanation (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30944220)

1) Condoms reduce the chance of STDs more. Maybe be a responsible parent and teach your kids about condoms instead of sticking your fingers in your years.
2) It's the 21st century. I have a shower. I shower first as does my girlfriend before I. I've never heard one complaint about 'preference' or liking it 'the other way'
3) I've heard stories that they don't. It's circumstantial (no pun) evidence. I last plenty long for my girlfriend.

Re:Perfect explanation (1)

garompeta (1068578) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943942)

WTF, Seriously... following your logic you saying that the glans only has 10% of the nerve endings on the penis? So under your supposition, then if I ablate my glans and keep my foreskin I can still achieve orgasms? Are you in elementary school? Or you cheated on the male anatomy exam? (lol)

Re:Perfect explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30942610)

So that's why they cut of the foreskin.

No one wants to be a dickhead.

Re:Perfect explanation (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943312)

Well, this procedure will make you a skinhead regardless of the origin of the skin cells, won't it?

Re:Perfect explanation (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943300)

I wonder if that is the problem Tiger Woods has. He obviously was thinking with the wrong head.

Re:Perfect explanation (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30944328)

They cut it off so they can sell it to cosmetics manufacturers.

Yes ladies, your makeup has foreskin in it.

Rub those cocks all over your faces.

Dont get your hopes up (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30942020)

I'm sure Conservatives will still find something to complain about.

They should just outright say, 'we're just afraid of science'

Fetal Stem Cells Need Not Apply (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30942076)

How long will researchers insist on exploring fetal stem cells when adult stem cells have proven themselves to be so much more promising and have actually produces therapeutic results?

Re:Fetal Stem Cells Need Not Apply (2, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942406)

If the implications pan out, not much longer.

I like stem cells, but feel that abortion is the most sensitive of issues and ought to remain free of any profit motive.

To me this breakthrough seems like a win-win.

Re:Fetal Stem Cells Need Not Apply (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942536)

I like stem cells, but feel that abortion is the most sensitive of issues and ought to remain free of any profit motive.

It's cost us years, possibly as much as a decade, of research time because of religious considerations. In many cases, aborted fetuses wouldn't survive to term anyway, or are a threat to the mother's health -- but many consider that it has to be a baby or nothing at all. It's that kind of black-and-white thinking that has no place in serious discussions of biology -- Nature does not tolerate black and white. It is a very grey and organic process, where few hard lines can be drawn.

Re:Fetal Stem Cells Need Not Apply (2, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943024)

Nature is only organic if it has carbon in it.

Re:Fetal Stem Cells Need Not Apply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30943380)

ah the silicon based organisms in the audience speak up

Re:Fetal Stem Cells Need Not Apply (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942638)

If you never do research with fetal stem cells, you'll never know what they can do. When the alternative to fetal stem cell research is throwing the fetal stem cells in an incinerator, don't we have a moral obligation to get the best use out of them that we can?

Re:Fetal Stem Cells Need Not Apply (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30944234)

We also owe a very very large portion of our current medical knowledge to the Nazis. If it wasn't for their 'human experiments' we wouldn't know some of the stuff we know today.

Where do you think we got the 'how long you can survive without food/water' stats?

Doesn't mean it was right.

Re:Fetal Stem Cells Need Not Apply (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942828)

All of the work with adult cells relies on our deep understanding from the much easier case of fetal cells.

Re:Fetal Stem Cells Need Not Apply (2, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942904)

For a while probably, at least until adult stem cells are actually proven to be as useful as embryonic stem cells and are able to be used interchangeably. Yes there are some uses of adult stem cells that have produced therapeutic results but not every therapy or study can be done with adult cells.

Furthermore there is not much of an ethical dilemma for using embryonic stem cells as they are not children nor will they ever develop into children. The problem is political and based in the morality of others which doesn't consider very deeply the question. The problem is that people often equate potential life for life, and this is wrong and ultimately produces evil.

For instance if you really believed that embryos had the same worth as a fetus or a child and a hospital was burning and you could only rescue all the babies in the maternity ward(we'll say 24 of them) or all of the potential babies in the cryogenic freezer then you logically would rescue the freezer as you would save far more lives. I for one would choose the actual babies and save the maternity ward.

That's awesome! (3, Insightful)

stakovahflow (1660677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942108)

I'm happy for those with MS & Macular Degeneration...
There is Hope!

(Just not the "Obama" kind of hope...)

I'm curious...

Is this possibly a cure for Alzheimers, as well?

Re:That's awesome! (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942318)

Dude, did you not even read the summary?

I'm lazy, so usually I don't before I write some knee-jerk reactionary crap, but I thought I was alone in that.

(Note I'm saying "I" write that stuff, not you.)

Re:That's awesome! (1)

some_guy_88 (1306769) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942416)

Does this mean I can consume as much alcohol as I like now and let my doctor in the future grow back my brain cells?

I'll drink to that.

Re:That's awesome! (1)

cytoman (792326) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943660)

I guess...but what about the lost memories?

Re:That's awesome! (4, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942602)

Is this possibly a cure for Alzheimers, as well?

No. The beta-amyloid plaques that damage and ultimately kill bain cells would still be present. The plaques themselves must be destroyed, not just throw billions of new neurons at the problem.

Re:That's awesome! (3, Insightful)

Jon Taylor (1086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943540)

If the beta-amyloid plaques do ultimately kill the brain cells, what could be gained by removing them? AFAIK the only decent route out and away from Alzheimer's is to synthesize replacement brain tissue via new neurons AND new glial cells, and then somehow retrain the brain to use the new nervous tissue to 'route around' the damaged areas. Stroke victims often undergo years of intensive retraining in order to relearn how to walk and talk, etc., which shows that the retraining approach works in principle to fix arbitrary types of brain damage. But, you have to have somewhere for the training to go, which is why the prospect of well-engineered replacement nervous tissue is so important. IMHO, it could in fact very well become part of an Azheimer's cure.

Cheers! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30942210)

Neurons have been created directly from skin cells for the first time.

This research counters all the arguments that people shouldn't do drugs because they kill brain cells. Now that we know how to create new brain cells, there is no excuse for not being stoned. And bike riders can now throw away there helmets. Science brings freedom back to democracy.

Cost-benefit analysis (0)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942362)

... there is no excuse for not being stoned.

Oh yes there is: it's too expensive.

check out the excessively big brain on Brad (3, Interesting)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942892)

Don't get carried away and be all rash now.

Some drugs actually promote neurogenesis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1253627/ [nih.gov]

You wouldn't want to get stoned all the time and then have this new cell therapy and end up with too many neurons.

What to do with neuron cells (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942354)

So, AWESOME!

Uh, do we have anyway to implant vat grown neurons into people in some meaningful way? Can we actually attach vat grown neurons to, uh, other neurons?
This is going to be one of those "wait 5 years" breakthroughs isn't it?

So... how long... (5, Funny)

mafian911 (1270834) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942384)

...until this technology can be used to regrow luscious locks of hair for balding people? Just asking... for a friend... .

And people still bitch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30942408)

And people still bitch about the ban of embryonic stem cells. If we think of it, the ban actually spurs research to a much better direction.

Re:And people still bitch... (1)

net28573 (1516385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943488)

If we work with what we have when we have it then we can improve upon it while also researching other potential ways to do it. So if embryonic stem cell research hadnt been banned then we could have had our head scientists working on it while the rest of em try and find other ways to do it. either way with the ban we have lost a potential of getting important work done faster with people that know what they are doing rather than work at the slow pace of searching what would seem like grains of sand for the potential answer or alternative (waste of time).

clearly scientists know nothing about marketing (4, Funny)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942490)

Sick people don't have money because they spend it all on hospitals and medicine but horny old fat people have tons of money. If Dr. Jack wants some serious grant money he'd better try to turn fat cells in boner cells. He can use some of that cash to help him make Michael J. Fox less shaky and hell, why not give him a giant wang while he's at it.

He'd be great in a commercial, "Hi, I'm Michael J. Fox. You may have noticed that I'm a lot less shaky these days and I also have a giant wang now. I owe it all to Dr. Jack." Boom! Instant Nobel Prize.

Re:clearly scientists know nothing about marketing (2, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943484)

"horny old fat people have tons of money."

This "money" of which you speak, when do I get it?

Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (4, Informative)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942498)

There are no "workarounds" in the need for embryonic stem cells. Each approach and method of stem cell generation have their respective strengths and weaknesses

Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (3, Interesting)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942778)

Really now. If what these guys are saying is true and any cells can be reprogrammed. What's the big benefit of harvesting embryo's?

Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943208)

It encourages an evil science and evil men. Evil men grow nice, dark, slicked mustaches. QED, harvesting babies for their stem cells increases the mustache:nonmustache ratio in the world. Therefore, it benefits mankind.

=P

Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943264)

Really now. If what these guys are saying is true and any cells can be reprogrammed. What's the big benefit of harvesting embryo's?

What's the big benefit of incinerating them as medical waste?

Medical ethics and Religious ethics should remain separate. Point in case:
Go back a few hundred years and the study of anatomy was called "desecrating a corpse".
Our monkey curiosity has gotten us this far, lets not be arbitrary about what we keep doing with it.

Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (1)

TheTyrannyOfForcedRe (1186313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943544)

Really now. If what these guys are saying is true and any cells can be reprogrammed. What's the big benefit of harvesting embryo's?

They're fun to make and even more fun to "harvest."

MMMmmmmmmmmmmmm...embryos!

Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30943662)

Stem cells can be harvested from breast milk and umbilical cord blood. Personally while I don't like the 'moo' factor, breast milk would seem far more easily obtainable than embryos.

Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (3, Insightful)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942946)

I'm sorry there was a "need" for embryonic stem cells? Was there a break through that I missed? I was under the impression that embryonic cells would be great because they can be turned into anything, and are ready to go right after they are harvested, but they have a very high rejection rate and have been known to introduce other problems.
 
That's why all techniques using stem cells use adult stem cells.

Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (2, Funny)

abigor (540274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943356)

Yes, apparently there was a bunch of stuff that you missed. Don't worry about it though.

Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (1)

cytoman (792326) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943686)

LOL! I loved this response! I'm definitely stealing it for my own use :-).

Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943668)

You're conflating research with clinical practice. In research the embryonic cells are vastly easier to work with, which hastens progress, reduces expense, and eliminates one source of errors. Clinically, adult stem cells are more useful since a person could receive transplants that were immunologically indistinguishable from their own body, thus negating the need for immunosupressants and reducing the need for organ donors.

Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943028)

Is this because of Real Science concerns or just because there is a group of people who don't like embryonic stem cells for religious reasons.

If you can get your research done without a bunch of rabid bible thumpers yelling at you... All the better...

If you are pushing continuing the process because of political reasons or because you just don't want to loose then it isn't science.

Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30944308)

There are no "workarounds" in the need for embryonic stem cells. Each approach and method of stem cell generation have their respective strengths and weaknesses

What "need" for embryonic stem cells? Can you tell me of one successful therapeutic use for embryonic stem cells?

The Thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30942560)

Great... its The Thing.

I've heard of wearing your heart on your sleeve... (3, Funny)

Falstaft (847466) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942644)

...but your brain?

Cancer incidence (2, Informative)

dreamer.redeemer (1600257) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942724)

Emphasis on directly, we've been able to coax human adult somatic cells to become pluripotent stem cells since 2007. The "ethical issues" are pretty much old news, bringing it up almost feels like troll bait. TFA suggests that these cells are much less prone to cancer than iPSCs, which seems like a rather important bit the summary omitted.

Cell Wars. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30942832)

"The article also points out that this method could work around the ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem-cell research."

Would we have had this development if there hadn't been any ethical issues with embryonic stem cells?

Religious issue (3, Insightful)

cytoman (792326) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942888)

The article also points out that this method could work around the ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem-cell research.

This is more a religious issue rather than ethical - much like the pro-choice and anti-choice debate. Same people are anti-stem cell as those who are anti-choice.

Re:Religious issue (2, Interesting)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942970)

I'm against abortion and I'm for stem cells, just not the embryonic variety

Re:Religious issue (1)

cytoman (792326) | more than 4 years ago | (#30942986)

This illustrates my point above. Thanks.

Re:Religious issue (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943018)

No it doesn't you've completely missed my point

Re:Religious issue (0, Flamebait)

cytoman (792326) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943052)

Another example to drive home my point: The same people who are anti choice also distinguish between "embryonic" stem cells and stem cells, and the same people "accept microevolution" but not "macroevolution". Now, there are always exceptions to such generalizations but broadly, religious people are anti-science and anti-progress.

Re:Religious issue (1)

chickenarise (1597941) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943140)

Now, there are always exceptions to such generalizations but broadly, religious people are anti-science and anti-progress.

And as jgtg32a has shown, pro-thick-headedness. I can't believe it took you 3 posts for him to understand your point...

Re:Religious issue (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943306)

Why not just be honest and label the sides pro-abortion and anti-abortion? I get the idea that you have to present your ideas using the most favorable words possible in order to make it seem like you are naturally correct, but we're almost all adults here so let's not play intellectually dishonest games.

Re:Religious issue (1)

cytoman (792326) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943400)

Pro-choice and anti-choice. Nobody is pro-abortion. But the choice should be with the person who is pregnant. If you try to take that choice away, then you are anti-choice.

I was objecting to the use of the word "ethical" in describing the debate because ethics has nothing to do with it. There is no dishonesty in my posts. I'm being as clear as can be. The only dishonesty seems to be from those who oppose stem cells and those who are anti-choice - incidentally one and the same group.

Re:Religious issue (1)

Rostin (691447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943690)

the choice should be with the person who is pregnant...ethics has nothing to do with it.

Ah. I guess you must be using the word 'should' in a non-ethical way.

Re:Religious issue (1)

Eryq (313869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943640)

"Pro-choice" and "anti-choice" are perfectly neutral and descriptive ... the issue is whether or not you believe a woman should have the right to choose to abort her pregnancy. Personally, I'm pro-choice.

And we all know you're not, or you wouldn't have accused the OP of being "intellectually dishonest". So don't pretend.

The dishonest labels would have been "pro/anti-life" or "pro/anti-abortion". Pro-choicers are not "anti-life" (I just value the life of the mother over the life of a cluster of cells), nor are we "pro-abortion" (I want abortions to be as rare as possible -- but I want them to be legal).

Re:Religious issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30943420)

Coincidentally, there are biblical reasons that abortion is no big deal. More compelling than the ones against. Religious reasons are all pretty weak. If I'm going to support a law in either direction I want more.

Scientifically, I have no trouble with abortion either. It's just cells.

Ethically, I have trouble with it. The "just cells" argument applies to you and me as well, so there needs to be a better definition of what constitutes a human life. Religion based ones are weak, so let's not even bother with those. Unfortunately, every definition I hear is arbitrary. In mankind's history, we've used arbitrary definitions of what is human to do some pretty terrible things. "Slaves, well, they aren't human." "Jews, well, they aren't human." "Women, well, they aren't as fully human as men." And so on. I'd rather have a broad definition of what is human and be wrong than have a narrow one and be wrong.

So if the definition is hazy, how about rights? Rights of the woman vs rights of the fetus.

Right of choice: Unless it was forced sex, the choice was made to risk pregnancy. You smoke, you might get lung cancer. But the difference is that lung cancer most certainly has no rights. Choice after sex is a pretty lame reason.

Economic/social/population reasons: weird as it seems, I'd buy those reasons. But feel kind of dirty doing it. Bringing a child into a world only to suffer seems wrong. But it would have to be a pretty shitty existence.

Every child a wanted child: sorry, but the worth of a person should not be predicated on them being wanted.

Privacy: A good argument only if we can assert that only one person is involved. But we're stuck with not being sure.

And so on. Overall, I'd say that both sides of the abortion debate use extremely weak reasons to justify what is essentially a gut feeling.

Why the rant? Because it can be a purely ethical debate about stem cells same as abortion can be a purely ethical debate. And just as murky.
   

Re:Religious issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30944084)

Life begins at conception. Over 1/3 of all pregnancies end in miscarriage (medically: spontaneous abortion). Do we outlaw miscarriages?

Viability begins at 22 weeks. Any fetus cannot survive outside of the womb before then. For me, that's the cut off. Once the fetus can survive on it's own, it is it's own person.

That said I firmly believe that the rights of the woman supersede any supposed rights of the fetus up to birth. Once the baby is outside it's mother's body it has full rights.

I believe this way because once we start to define a point where the rights of the fetus supersede the rights of the woman then we have opened a huge can of worms. Recently a woman [go.com] was forcibly detained at a hospital, and put on bed rest by court order. She was denied a second opinion, she was denied the ability to switch hospitals. Her baby died anyway. But because of the sweeping rights the court granted to the hospital this woman was still given a cesarean section - for a dead baby. A decision that will impact any future pregnancies she may have, may affect her future health, and can even affect her ability to get *health insurance*.

The woman should always maintain the right to self-determination, and self-sovereignty regardless of the state of her uterus. We already have precedent set by courts that you aren't required to give up your own kidney to save the life of your child - even if you are the only donor. There should be no difference in utero.

Re:Religious issue (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943526)

Your choice of words "Choice" and "Anti Choice" give insight into who's choice you give deference to. Last time I checked, the babies weren't given a choice.

And at what time to you "choose" to stop calling it "fetal tissue" and start calling it a "baby" (human, person or otherwise)??

How come you didn't call it "Pro-Life" and "Pro-death" ?? By simply choosing your words, you've clearly tried to frame the "choice" into something more palatable to your feelings.

Here's my challenge to you. Stop calling it "Anti-choice" and calling it by "Pro-Life" for a year. The side hasn't changed, only your words, see if your view on the subject changes. I'm not even suggesting you change it from "Pro-Choice" to "Pro-Death" or "Anti-life". Just stop calling it Anti-life and call it Pro-Life for a year.

You see, I bet you can't or won't be able to do it. And now you'll make excuses and attack me for even making such a suggestion.

After all, it is always easier to kill someone if you dehumanize them first. Jews are Pigs. Christians are devils. Muslims are evil doers. Blacks are apes. Women are property. Babies are fetal tissue.

Re:Religious issue (0)

cytoman (792326) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943550)

Either you are being intentionally obtuse or you are really confused here. The choice we are talking about is regarding the adult, not the fetus. I hope that you can think from this new perspective and re-align your thoughts.

Re:Religious issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30944228)

*whoosh*

Article (4, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943150)

For those of you trying to find the actual nature article, here. [nature.com] I know we hate paywalls, but it should really be required for submission to slashdot that a link to the real paper, not preview, be included.

I am not a stem cell biologist, nor am I a neurobiologist, and I will need to read the paper more carefully when I’m at home, but some of my thoughts:
There do seem to be some hurdles to using this in humans, but many are trivial in comparison, and the reason the authors didn’t do them yet is because they wanted to get this out there before anyone else did. For one thing, they haven’t shown this in humans yet, but it should work in human cells that’s their stated next step. These cells were grown using dead mouse “feeder cells” which is common in cell culture, but complicates things for human therapy. You don’t want even dead mouse cells or other people’s dead cells in something that is going to go into your brain. People are working on culturing without feeder cells, I’m not sure where they are on that. The method of getting the 3 genes in is also an issue. These guys used lentiviral transfection, which is not something you want for human cells. Earlier work on IPSC got it done by incubating cells with transcription factor –protein- modified to penetrate cells. That might be a good next step here, though it would probably decrease the efficiency.

A bigger issue to me is what they are transfecting. They’re putting in three transcription factors, Ascl1, Brn2 (also called Pou3f2) and Myt1l. One of them, Ascl1, is found in many cancers (according to wiki anyway) and might be tumorgenic. Especially if they find they can’t get it to work without viral transfection, that could be a concern. The other two though aren’t tumorgenic apparently. Brn2 (also called Pou3f2) and Myt1l are both associated with neuron differentiation, which is interesting.

They did overcome a big hurdle: these are not pluripotent, which probably means there’s less chance of causing tumors, teratomas. With induced pluripotent cells, that is a concern. If you were to inject IpsC into your brain, you don’t know what you’re going to get. You could get bone cells growing in there, cells which aren’t supposed to be there that could potentially cause tumor formation. This doesn’t seem like that will be an issue here, they apparently get all neurons, neurons which appear not to continue dividing. I do find it a little hard to believe though that these only produce neurons and never glial cells, though I’ll need to reread it a few more times.

This is also a interesting paradigm shift for developmental biologists: apparently you don’t have to go back to square one to switch cell fates, it will take longer and be less efficient to do so. IpsC take about a month to become pluripotent and then be grown back into neurons, and only about 1% of the cells do that if I recall correctly. These take a week.

For much of the study, they seem to be using 5 different factors, not the 3 minimal ones. They state that Ascl1 alone was sufficient to make these cells start looking like neurons, but the other two were needed for them to look and behave like mature neurons. Most of the figures were working with a combination of 5 factors. With all 5, they showed a good mix of different types of neurons, but that had less efficient conversion than the minimal 3. I’m wondering if you’d actually be able to get all the different types of mature neurons with just the 3. I’d guess it’s not that they intentionally did it that way, but they wanted to hurry up and publish ASAP, so they skipped doing that characterization for now.

One problem facing all these therapies eventually, as I understand it, is that you want to get one specific type of neuron for therapy. I have no idea what strategies there are to direct differentiation into specific types of neurons, but this seems like it would be the bigger hurdle.

Using skin cells as a base ingredient (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943280)

I'm not particularly keen on the idea of using skin cells for this. Sure, they're readily accessible (not very invasive), but skin cells are really close to the surface of the body (or at the surface of the body), and therefore really close to environmental influences. They die frequently (a fair amount of the dust in your house is dead skin cells), and are exposed to many things that can cause genetic mutations, sunlight probably being the biggest thing. If I had to regenerate neurons from other body cells, I'd rather something that was a bit more internal and reasonably far away from damaging sources (liver, for example).

Re:Using skin cells as a base ingredient (3, Funny)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30944170)

So you want to take your body cells from where the sun doesn't shine.

Re:Using skin cells as a base ingredient (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30944172)

...and reasonably far away from damaging sources (liver, for example).

Yeah, but it doesn't help much when we bring those damaging sources [wikipedia.org] to them.

Is anyone worried about this virus escaping?... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30943626)

Is anyone worried about this virus escaping? We could all end up as a big blog of brain cells sitting on the floor! :D

I don't know if I'd go as far as that quote (2, Informative)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943804)

I mean the "This suggests that there are no great rules -- you can reprogramme anything into anything else." quote. From what I remember from bio class tissues in mammals split into 3 different layers early on, the ectodermm the mesoderm and the endoderm. Oddly enough both skin and nerves come from the ectoderm. So what the scientist has demonstrated is he can turn on part of the ectoderm into another. (Not that he could say take endoderm from say the intestines and convert it into skin.)

Cell Base + 3-D cell = Immortality!!! (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943946)

Just print yourself up a new body and replace the brain one hemisphere at a time and you too can live forever!!!!

No guarantees if you can preserve you "ghost"..... or not....

First Time Eh? (1)

Favonius Cornelius (1691688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30943966)

Not the first time, but the first announced. :}

ma8e (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30944208)

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