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Breakthrough In Stem Cell Culturing

StoneLion posted more than 4 years ago | from the stem-celebration dept.

Biotech 57

Science Daily reports that for the first time, human embryonic stem cells have been cultured under chemically controlled conditions without the use of animal substances, which is essential for future clinical uses. "Now, for the first time, we can produce large quantities of human embryonic stem cells in an environment that is completely chemically defined," says professor Karl Tryggvason, who led the study at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet. "This opens up new opportunities for developing different types of cells which can then be tested for the treatment of disease."

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cool story, bro (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32408232)

So I meet a girl on the internet. We exchange e-mail, mostly erotic, for some time. We decide to take the plunge and meet face to face. She knows or should know what she's getting into -- I'm very explicit in my letters and tell her what to expect. I fly out to see her for the weekend, and here's what happens:

I show up at her door. She's nervous and in a vintage corset -- wasp waist, plush hips, you know the story. The corset's so tight I think she might have had a neighbor help her into it and wonder how many people she's fucking. Aside from a black thong and black high heels all wrapped up under a smoking jacket, that's all she's got on.

Who cares what I'm wearing.

It's a bit awkward at first. We chat, I tell her I love what she's in. We drink a bit. I tell her "Why don't you take your jacket off? Now." She's taken aback. She knows I'm dominant, but still, aren't we just getting to know each other? But she stands and sheds it. She's exposed and knows it. I walk up to her and pull her very heavy breasts out of the corset, and I think she's beginning to feel embarrassed for dressing like such a whore. I tweak her nipples. She gasps. I sit down, and say,

"Present your breast to me. Put your nipple in my mouth." She says, "okay." Okay what? "Okay, sir." So she bends over my chair and lifts a tit to my mouth. I lick, she moans. We drink a bit more.

I stand up, open my suitcase, and pull out two fine leather cuffs lined in fleece. I put them on her wrists. Then, pulling her arms back, I march her to her bedroom and push her down on the bed on her back. Pull her down so her ass is right on the edge of the bed. Clip her wrists together and pull her arms above her head. "Where can I find a bowl and a towel?"

I'm gone for a few minutes, rummaging in her kitchen. When I come back I've got a razor, a towel, a bowl, and some cream. I pull a chair to the edge of the bed. "Put your feet on the bed. Now spread your legs. Wider. Don't move."

Later, when she's clean, we move into the dining room. She's moved into sub-space. As instructed, she's had an eyebolt installed in the ceiling. I attach her wrist cuffs to the bolt, and now she's stretched, feet still on the floor and hands in the air. She's so exposed. "Spread your legs."

She looks good. Heels, corset, cuffs. I get a horse crop and run it down her back, softly, teasingly... till I get to the point of her mid lower back. I stop there and jab her ever so lightly. "Arch your back for me." This will become a mantra in the two days we spend together. She arches her back, jutting her breasts forward and her ass, with her legs spread, protruding even more. I put her hair up in a pony tail. I like it that way. Something to grab.

I slap her softly with the crop. Breasts, inner thighs, buttocks. Her eyes are closed. Lulled into a sense of comfort and then suddenly brought out of it by a harsh slap on the ass. I put a rubber ball gag in her mouth, forcing it open and leaving her with no voice, other than groans.

Her ass becomes my whipping ground. "Don't slouch." Slap. A soft slap on one cheek and then the other. Then a caress. Then a slap. I cup a breast, bounce it slightly. Then reach for a nipple. A squeeze. Her ass is so red.

I unhook her from the bolt and lead her gently into the bedroom and guide her onto the bed. "Get on all fours." She is open and her breasts sway unhampered. The room is lit by her nightstand lamp. I position her so that her ass is at the end of the bed. Again, the mantra -- "arch your back for me." I run the crop over her body, gently, then lightly slap her ass. She is aroused and sensitive to the touch of the crop, moaning and wanting a caress. And then she freezes -- she feels the crop at the entrance of her ass. I have it turned around and say "I'm going to fuck you with the handle." She feels it enter ever so slightly and then stop.

"Move your ass back." I want her to impale your ass on the crop. She blushes, hesitates. "Now!" I say.

So she does. She fucks her ass on the crop while I hold it still. And begins to move back and forth on my command. It is long, slim and so controlled. When it is about four inches into her I stop and tell her not to move. I let go of the crop and tell her to keep it in that position. Sticking straight out of her ass. She complies. It is about eighteen inches long and makes such a beautiful tail sticking out of her ass that it's hard for me not to cum.

I unbutton my shirt. Rattle ice in my glass. Slap her ass. Unzip my pants. Shoes off. I caress her buttocks.... remove her ball gag. "God I want you," she says.

"I know." Her ass is trembling with the effort of holding the crop with her sphincter. I slowly pull it out. "Open your mouth." She bites the crop and I tell her to hold it lengthwise in her mouth.

"When I tell you, I want you to look back at me so I can see you with my crop in your mouth." I pour oil down the cleft of her cheeks and work one, two fingers into her. In and out. And suddenly, she arches her back and realizes it isn't my fingers, it is ME. My cock is pressed against her asshole and her ring relaxes as I shove myself up her ass. "Now!" I say and she looks back at me. She looks like she has a bridle in her mouth. Her breasts are swaying furiously. I fuck her ass as hard as I can and hold her hair and say "are you my submissive? are you?" punctuated by deep thrusts in her ass. I am getting there.

"Are you my pussy? Are you?" Another deep thrust and another. Deep and fast. And as her ring contracts around my cock and I unload my cum into her ass and shout "are you?" it is all she can do to drop the crop from her mouth and yell "yes! Yes! YES!"

Bah humbug (4, Funny)

Xtense (1075847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408242)

Pah! Finally, those uncultured stem cells will learn the finer arts of high society!

Re:Bah humbug (0, Offtopic)

Mantrid (250133) | more than 4 years ago | (#32409534)

Whoops had to comment to remove the accidental -ve modifying (mouse wheeling the dialog instead of the page)

Advances (3, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408270)

Along with the recent news of the creation of an artificial cell, it seems like biotechnology is the truly "hot" field these days.

Re:Advances (0, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408366)

That is true. As a bonus, we get instant gratification from being able to play god, constructing life forms as if we were playing with Legos.

Space travel sounded fun when we were young, but it's just not that exciting. So we get a couple rovers on Mars -- but for what? To look at dust and rocks all day long? *Yawn*

Additionally, let's all give Stonelion the glad hand. I am a professional troll, Stoneyboy, but I like you. Hell, you and Pudge can come over to my house and fuck my sister!

Re:Advances (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32408660)

Very... lively, too. A very fertile area, and will probably turn very fruitful with time. /I'll show myself out now.

Re:Advances (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32412510)

Yep. The various parts of cells can be seen information-carriers and information processing machines. When a new effective information technology emerges on the market there is always a boom in the economy.

The next 40 years are going to be one hell of a ride for those who know about biotech. I sometimes wish I had taken bio engineering instead of electronic engineering when I had the chance.

Re:Advances (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32416082)

While out field of IT and supercomputers is becoming duller every day :-/

Now just hopefully... (3, Insightful)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408318)

They can find the cure for alzheimer's before I really have to worry about it.

Re:Now just hopefully... (4, Funny)

Zeros (1016135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408392)

Dont worry you will forget all your problems soon enogh.

Re:Now just hopefully... (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408522)

It's funny until you've seen it happen. The person with Alzheimer's will certainyl forget but those around them certainly won't. Eventually Alzheimer's gets to the point where they forget *everyone* and everything. They often have depression from the times that they realize what is going on and not knowing who anyone is around them. Alzheimer's fractures the mind to the point where it has effectively combined aspects from their childhood, teenage years, adulthood and older years all wrapped up in the same person. They lose the ability to speak, walk and in the end even move. As bad as it is for them, it is fucking terrible for their family to watch that unfold when you know that there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. Stem cell research has the potential to significantly curb the effects of Alzheimer's but alas it will not be in time for my own grandmother who is in the final stages of Alzheimer's.

Re:Now just hopefully... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32408580)

(Score:-1, Whiner)

Re:Now just hopefully... (3, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408830)

Situations like those you specified always made me curious; at what point is life no longer worth living? I live and die by my mind. The thought of a disease stealing it away from me, a little at a time, is my version of hell. I know I would prefer to be put out of my misery long before the disease takes me. I can't be alone in this.

Not only would I be spared months/years of hell, but so would my family. That last point alone would be worth it to me.

Re:Now just hopefully... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32409154)

According to the GP it's not months and years of hell, it's mild depression. I'm sure that could be handled with anti-depressants. You say that you live and die by your mind, but as soon as pieces of it start failing you will no be you, so you probably won't care anymore. Either way, if it scares you that much you can always buy a gun the day you get diagnosed.

From what I've seen, it's far from mild depression (1)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32409244)

I watched the decline happen with my father-in-law, and the days when he was totally lucid may have been the worst of all for him, because he could see his situation and understand the terrible things he'd said and felt in his less lucid days. The disease was a daily torture for the man, and I know that under a similar diagnosis and with the current state of medicine as it is, my own choice would be more sudden and immediate.

Re:Now just hopefully... (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#32409840)

No. You misunderstood me. When I say depression, I mean they grab a knife out of the kitchen silverware drawer and try to stab themselves. (which is exactly what my grandmother tried to do)

Re:Now just hopefully... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32409206)

Hell? The thought of being able to watch my favorite movies over and over "for the fist time" sounds pretty good to me.

Re:Now just hopefully... (1)

LUH 3418 (1429407) | more than 4 years ago | (#32412722)

>> Hell? The thought of being able to watch my favorite movies over and over "for the fist time" sounds pretty good to me.

Yeah... If you are still capable of even understanding what's going on in the said movies. Alzheimers heavily damages short term memory, as far as I know.

Here in Canada, it seems like euthanasia will be legalized soon. This could enable people to choose ahead of time to be terminated if things get very bad. Right now, people who suffer the torture of debilitating illnesses don't even have that legal option. They have to suffer it through to the end and bring their family along, whether they want that or not.

I haven't had to go through this myself, but other people have told me they have seen their great grandparents go through it... To the point where these people became senile, then unable to walk, unable to talk, blind, and eventually starved to death. I think we should allow people to decide whether or not they want to finish their life that way.

Re:Now just hopefully... (1)

Spugglefink (1041680) | more than 4 years ago | (#32413148)

I live and die by my mind. The thought of a disease stealing it away from me, a little at a time, is my version of hell. I know I would prefer to be put out of my misery long before the disease takes me. I can't be alone in this.

Nope. You're not. The closest I ever come to praying is hoping I have enough of my wits about me to know when it's time to end it. I'm not at all suicidal, but given my family history, there is probably going to come a point, a line I do not wish to cross, a fate far worse than death.

Re:Now just hopefully... (1)

fifedrum (611338) | more than 4 years ago | (#32417542)

sounds like a business opportunity... Alzheimer's Insurance. Pay now, painless exit after diagnosis.

Re:Now just hopefully... (2, Informative)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408882)

Yeah, my grandpa has it and it is pretty awful. The crazy thing is, he has that body of an ox and he is 94 now? If it wasn't for Alzheimer's he would prolly be doing fine and live for another 10 years easily. At least the medicine he is on now has significantly slowed the progress and he sort of still remembers who his kids and wife is, but barely that.

Re:Now just hopefully... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32423240)

"prolly"? ... learn to be an adult...

Re:Now just hopefully... (1)

SplicerNYC (1782242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408938)

Yes, indeed. I saw it happen to my mother in the year before she passed. She was an M.D. in life and it was tragic to witness her decline. I certainly hope that scientists will be aggressive in coming up with treatments if such treatments are possible.

Re:Now just hopefully... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32409300)

"effectively combined aspects from their childhood, teenage years, adulthood and older years all wrapped up in the same person"

That sounds exactly like a good night of drinking!

"They lose the ability to speak, walk and in the end even move."

Are you sure you are not talking about a college frat party?

Re:Now just hopefully... (0)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32410364)

It is improbable that stem cell research will in any way contribute to a cure for Alzheimer's.

JaNus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32408402)

why is this showing up as my newgrounds page?

Who cares? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32408416)

What I really want to know is this: do stem cells make a good lubricant? It would really get me off knowing that I am getting off using the dead cells of a thousand aborted fetuses.

This is good (3, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408526)

We remove some of the ethical concerns that go with stem cell research. This should go a long way in advancing medical science.

Re:This is good (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408810)

Don't worry, the religious right will invent knew reasons why this research is an abomination. I mean they were the ones that were opposed to stem cell research because it kills embryos, but totally fine with IVF which purposely creates more embryos than are needed and kills the extras.

Re:This is good (1)

MikeB0Lton (962403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408918)

You speak of the religious right as though it is some unified group, when it is in fact not. Why don't you wait to see what happens before throwing insults?

Re:This is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32409814)

Go back to your hole, caveman religious cockweed.

Re:This is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32419830)

You speak of the religious right as though it is some unified group, when it is in fact not. Why don't you wait to see what happens before throwing insults?

How did he insult them? He accurately described what the religious right did do. That's not an insult, at least to them, as they view what they are doing as the right thing.
As for "religious right" not being a unified group, that's true when dealing with other issues that could fracture this group, but not these issues, by definition. If you're OK with abortion, by definition, you are on the left (on this issue at least). This is not an insult or anything like that, it's just a descriptive label being used correctly, nor is it any sort of unfair generalization, anymore than it's an unfair generalization to say all people who are opposed to the death penalty are all opposed to the death penalty.

Re:This is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32510218)

past history shows that most probably the religios nuts will come with something.

And they ane united in a way that all of them invent things when they don't know the answer. Ask them how the universe started and you will see...

Re:This is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32409626)

Don't worry, the religious right will invent knew reasons why this research is an abomination.

And if they don't, the godless left will invent new reasons to hate them.

Re:This is good (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 4 years ago | (#32415638)

And if they don't, the godless left will invent new reasons to hate them.

How do you feel about Scientologists? Do you want to see them take over the government?


Well, now you know how the "godless left" feels about you.

Re:This is good (2, Informative)

williamhb (758070) | more than 4 years ago | (#32413392)

We remove some of the ethical concerns that go with stem cell research. This should go a long way in advancing medical science.

I'm pretty sure it's not the vegetarian vote that has been most concerned about stem cell research! (This is still about embryonic stem cells, so it still involves a pre-natal death, which has been the much more vociferous ethical debate.)

Patents (2, Insightful)

blackfrancis75 (911664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408570)

Best of all; it happened in Europe, so we don't have to worry about some self-serving corporate trying to patent 'Chemically Controlled Stem Cell Culturing' to make $$$ for themselves at the cost of all humanities medical advancement.

Bubble bursting. (4, Informative)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32409336)

Authors: Karl Tryggvason, Anna Domogatskaya, Sergey Rodin, a subset of the authors of the paper referenced at the end of TFA. I don't know enough about stem cells to say that the patent application is identical to TFA, but it's on at least highly similar subject matter. Prof. Tryggvason has over 30 patents as per his bio on the Biolamina corporate website [] , a company he co-founded. As a scientist currently trying to bring some academic research out of the lab and into deployment, I can tell you that this is just how things are done. It isn't perfect, but without the protection of a patent it's hard to see any company willingly expose itself to the massive risk and cost of developing, producing, testing, and marketing Prof. Tryggvason's work without the profit motive that patents protect.

Re:Bubble bursting. (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 4 years ago | (#32413766)

Wait... you mean there's a actually a mad scientist named Tryggvason [] ?

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32415690)

lol, I thought you were making a joke then I saw you were modded insightful, though that might be the joke. You know europe isn't a land of free spirited enlightened awesomeness. They just have some different problems than we do.

Great for autoimmune diseases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32408576)

As a diabetic, this is really good news for me! Stem cells could cure a failed pancreas.

Re:Great for autoimmune diseases (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#32412890)

Otherwise it could run a complaints desk.

Of course there's still the big ethical concern (3, Insightful)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408612)

With stems cells down the road. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, aka therapeutic cloning. (If you thought people had moral problems with using embryonic stem cells man they're going to flip out over that one.)

Re:Of course there's still the big ethical concern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32409718)

"...aka therapeutic cloning. (If you thought people had moral problems with using embryonic stem cells man they're going to flip out over that one.)"

The Bible say that Jesus was a clone, (only 1 parent)

Re:Of course there's still the big ethical concern (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32412866)

Mentally ill people flip out about things that their leader tells them to flip out about, because it treathens their illness... News at 11.

The problems start, if you give a rat’s ass about it.

And it's announced just as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32408692)

...we're coming up on third quarter fiscal and corporate taxes are coming due. /Yes, I know I'm jaded.

Background: done in mice (4, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32408926)

Some important background that this article doesn't specifically mention (another one I read did), in 2008, that same lab had shown this was possible with mouse stem cells [] . That's not to knock them, just it's important to point out that these things don't just come from out of the blue, nor does biology move as quick as we would like. This group has been working on showing this goes on in human stem cells for at least 2 years, who knows how long it took them to find this out in mice, or narrow down this one specific protein. Those years between when they discovered it in mice and showing it in humans probably also represents a lot of work. Science is hard.

I would guess that the next step, maybe one they're already working on, is to show that induced pluripotent stem cells can be cultured on this same protein. IPsC are when they take cells from your own body and make them revert back to a similar state to embryonic stem cells, to where they can then be turned into any cell type you want (the advantage there being they're your cells so you wouldn't get tissue rejection like you would with embryonic stem cells.)

Three big barriers to using IPsC for therapy were/are 1. that they were made using viral transfection of cancer-causing genes, 2. culturing them required feeder cells which the article describes why that's bad, and 3. it's hard to completely differentiate a population of pluripotent cells into one cell type you're trying to get. There have been some breakthroughs on 1, last I heard a group had shown you can just culture with modified proteins to induce pluripotency. This is a breakthrough on 2. Unfortunately 3 might be harder. You want to be sure you've differentiated all the stem cells before you put them into a patient. If you inject stem cells into a patient, they're going to get one of the worst types of tumors: teratomas, so you want to be absolutely sure you've gotten them all. And each different cell type seems to differentiate in different ways. We might figure out how to turn stem cells completely into skin cells, but that may not help us learn how to turn a culture of stem cells into brain cells.

Nonetheless, this was an important 2 part solution to a barrier to using stem cells to their full potential. Double kudos to them, they've made a real contribution here.

Not a breakthrough (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32410396)

Sorry, but this is not a significant breakthrough. Not going xeno-free has been an issue if convenience, not capability. Invitrogen has been selling a xeno-free matrix for hESC growth for 1-2 years now. I've used it and it works just fine. Replacing all of the animal components in hESC media is costly but conceptually pretty easy. Furthermore, I'd imagine that all of the stem-cell companies (Geron, Advanced Cell, and Novocell) w/ therapies moving towards the clinic already have their own proprietary xeno-free conditions.

"are you a man or a mouse?" (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32410822)

There goes one of my excuses for running away from fights now :-(

But.. (0)

Sumbius (1500703) | more than 4 years ago | (#32411054)

Won't someone think of the children?

8 Years Too Late (0, Troll)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32412048)

Obama lifted Bush's 2001 ban in 2009. If embryonic stem cell research hadn't been banned by Republicans pandering to theocrats and drug corps for so long, this technique that finally unleashes stem cells for therapies might have been developed 8 years earlier.

Maybe my paraplegic college buddy who starved himself a year ago instead of continuing life in a wheelchair with chronic pain and steadily failing organs might have at least had real evidence for hope. Bush killed him, and who knows how many other people.

Re:8 Years Too Late (3, Informative)

urusan (1755332) | more than 4 years ago | (#32413474)

I'm sorry to hear about your loss, but you can't really know if this really is the case or not. Would it have really led to this advance significantly earlier? or would it have just been slightly earlier? or perhaps there would have been little to no change?

Anyway, the Bush "ban" was actually initiated by Clinton administration and it only prevented embryonic stem cell research from receiving US federal funding if it involved the destruction of embryos. Adult stem cell research and privately funded research has been perfectly legal the whole time.

Research isn't like engineering where you can throw tons of money at a problem and make it go much faster. You can cultivate a good environment for research, and in this way the ban may have caused some harm, but throwing more resources at such research doesn't scale in the same way as say going to the moon or developing the atomic bomb, where all the fundamental research was done and all that was needed was a lot of engineering and elbow grease. In other words, 8 years more US federal funding does not translate into advances occurring 8 years earlier.

Plus, this discovery was made in Europe and not in the US. The US isn't the center of the universe.

There is a great temptation to blame our woes on the malice or incompetence of others, but one should not give in to this temptation unless there is very good proof for it.

Re:8 Years Too Late (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32413566)

US Federal funds were cut off from embryonic stem cell research by Bush in 2001. That was a big change, since US Federal funding is a giant part of global medical research. The US and its Federal funding that's no risk to the private corps that benefit from its results is indeed the center of the medical research universe. In 2001, embryonic stem cells were the most likely kind to produce results. That was slowed a very great deal until the funding was allowed again last year. And now just a year later is this breakthru. Showing just how valuable throwing money at this problem is, compared to denying it money.

In the real world, cutting off stem cell funding in 2001 was an epic setback to the medical research. And in the real world, real people who could benefit suffered without it.

Re:8 Years Too Late (1)

PapayaSF (721268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32413704)

Re:8 Years Too Late (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32413772)

The existing embryonic stem cell lines in 2001 were believed to be unusable [] after contamination by mouse cells.

The reality is that Bush succeeded in crippling stem cell research until his ban was lifted last year.

Re:8 Years Too Late (1)

urusan (1755332) | more than 4 years ago | (#32418830)

It should also be pointed out that the initial work that led to this discovery was done with mice stem cells (which had no such funding restrictions) which was only completed in 2008. This breakthrough is simply an extension of the technique to human stem cells. Do you really think that it would have been nearly a decade faster had the scientists been able to get US federal funding to do this with human cells instead of mouse cells? A delay of two years seems more plausible (if they had initially done this with human cells instead), and since it takes years to go from basic research to accepted treatments it is unlikely that your friend would have benefited from this.

Scientists found workarounds for the ban, like working on embryonic stem cells of animals or working on human adult stem cells or getting funding from other sources or analyzing pre-existing data or working in related fields that are now assisting research etc. This probably wasn't for the best, but it didn't stop the research.

I'm not saying that the ban was harmless. There will probably be excess deaths as a result. My point is that it is very difficult to measure the effects, and that they are probably far less serious than 8 whole years of lost research.

Re:8 Years Too Late (3, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32415752)

If embryonic stem cell research hadn't been banned by Republicans pandering to theocrats and drug corps for so long, this technique that finally unleashes stem cells for therapies might have been developed 8 years earlier.

I'm a cell biologist, a staunch democrat, and was astounded at how stupid Bush's actions were, but that's not exactly fair.

First and foremost, this is not a startling new discovery, the same group published a paper in 2008 showing that -mouse- embryonic stem cells grew fine on this one protein. The basic discovery didn't take place until just prior to 2008, the federal funding rules didn't affect mouse embryonic stem cell research obviously. It could have been discovered in mouse embryonic stem cells even with the funding rules under Bush, by chance it was not. Had we discovered it in mouse in, say, 2003, and then been unable to show it went for human cells too, that would be another case.

Second, embryonic stem cells being cultured without feeder layers would not have been much cause for hope, major barriers to treatment still existed and continue to exist outside of how to grow the cells. Research into overcoming those barriers would not have been directly impacted by the ban.

One barrier was that mbryonic stem cells were never very promising for therapeutic purposes, since you can't get ESC from a non-embryo patient. ESC from anything other than a clone could face tissue rejection issues. Within the last 3 years though, induced pluripotent stem cells were discovered/made, which would overcome those problems. I don't believe the research that went into that was significantly impacted by the ban, since again the mechanism was first identified in mouse. If your friend died last year, that would have already been discovered and is in my mind is the biggest breakthrough on spinal cord injuries we've ever seen. Recently, they've even done it without viral transfection.

Another barrier, and possibly the biggest one remaining, is that with this method or without, we still aren't 100% capable of taking a plate of stem cells or pluripotent cells and turning them all into neurons to repair the spinal cord. Last I heard, we could get most of them to mature, but not 100% to turn from stem cell to neuron. That's unacceptable for therapy. Any undifferentiated cells injected into your spinal cord would produce tumors, and in one of the worst places to get them. Once we get there, there's still likely to be the barrier of organization, how to get these cells to make a functional cord instead of just disorganized neurons all over the place. This may have been affected somewhat by the ban, but again, mouse studies continued and we're still not there.

Bush hindered our understanding of stem cell biology with his ignorant hypocritical meddling, but putting the blame on him is misplaced. I'm sorry about your friend, but it wasn't Bush that destroyed his hopes, we biologists failed him on our own.

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