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Stem Cell Therapy Causes Tumors

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the too-good-to-be-true dept.

327

SpaceAdmiral writes, "Using human embryonic stem cells, researchers have cured a Parkinson's-like disease in rats. Unfortunately, the Parkinson's cure causes brain tumors." From the first article: "...10 weeks into the trial, [University of Rochester researchers] discovered brain tumours had begun to grow in every animal treated... By definition, human embryonic stem cells have the almost mythical, immortal power to grow and divide indefinitely as they become the various tissues that make up the body. As a result, scientists have always known that any stem cell therapy could result in an uncontrolled growth of cells that could give rise to cancer."

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327 comments

Tumors? (5, Interesting)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553462)

Why not use adult stem cells [senate.gov] ? There also the cord blood [cordblood.com] research to add in, as well. So far, all the research I've been reading suggest these to be the best direction to take and such research is funded at the federal level. And as a bonus, has no real ethics baggage associated with it!

Re:Tumors? (4, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553510)

However, the same problem still exists- to use tissue from even adult stem cells, you have to accellerate their growth in an appropriate growth medium. Fail to stop that accellerated growth before implantation yeilds cancer. In fact, cancer is a good description of what you do to stem cells to begin with- encourage them to grow as different parts of the organism they came from, hopefully in a benign, controlled manner, but sometimes in a malignant uncontrolled manner.

Re:Tumors? (2, Interesting)

Darlantan (130471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553562)

I'm inclined to agree.

This experiment proves that stem cells can be used to cure disease, but it also demonstrates that we lack the control required to put them into use. The real trick here isn't convincing stem cells to become X other cell, it's convincing them to _stop_ doing their thing at the correct time. Otherwise cancer is the inevitable outcome.

Re:Tumors? (5, Informative)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553642)

This experiment proves that stem cells can be used to cure disease
No it didn't. This experiment shows what has LONG been established -- that stem cells (embryonic, in this case) can be used to TREAT diseases. There are in fact already TREATMENTS for several diseases that utilize stem cells -- virtually ALL either adult stem cells from the patient themself or donor cord blood stem cells.

What this experiment ALSO shows is the difficulty in using EMBRYONIC stem cells in that they often (and EVERY instance in this experiment) lead to uncontrolled growth (read CANCER).

Re:Tumors? (0)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554086)

So do adult stem cells. A recent experiment using human adult nervous tissue stem cells with mice proved that we could grow several human adult brains from a single cell (perhaps Terry Schaivo WAS killed too soon). But the same thing applies- adult or embryonic- the key is in stopping the division where you want to.

Re:Tumors? (3, Interesting)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554242)

Are you aware of any current embryonic stem cell therapy currently used at all? Nevermind routinely?

There are a number of ROUTINE ADULT stem cell therapies in use today. From treating multiple blood disorders (leukemia, for example).

From everything I've read, adult stem cells are less likely to result in uncontrolled growth. Far less. Their effectiveness in neurological disorders is on par with embryonic stem cells, far less risk of rejection (once the cells differentiate) and far less chance of the uncontrolled growth of embryonic stem cells.

Re:Tumors? (3, Interesting)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553590)

to use tissue from even adult stem cells, you have to accelerate their growth in an appropriate growth medium
Accelerate? Why? Whereas this "accelerated growth" natural for embryonic stem cells, and VERY much unwanted, in adult stem cells, are less likely to give rise to the uncontrolled growth seen with embryonic stem cells. At least, so I've read...

Re:Tumors? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554152)

Accelerate? Why? Whereas this "accelerated growth" natural for embryonic stem cells, and VERY much unwanted, in adult stem cells, are less likely to give rise to the uncontrolled growth seen with embryonic stem cells. At least, so I've read...

The whole key to the use of stem cells (adult, embryonic, or cord blood) is that you need to get the cells to divide and grow into the tissue you want. Without the cell division, without the accelerated growth, the stem cell implantation won't do anything at all for the patient. Controlled accellerated growth is EXACTLY what you want- creating tissue for implantation, say, into a damaged spinal cord. Uncontrolled accellerated growth is *always* a danger, and has been since the start, with all types of stem cells. In fact, several types of naturally occuring cancer are thought to be adult stem cells that have been "turned on" by a passing environmental influence- and are growing into a different type of tissue than what belongs at that location in the body. In the case of a certain type of ovarian stem cell cancer- the cancer can even appear to be a fetus [estronaut.com] complete with teeth and hair.

Re:Tumors? (1)

Goblez (928516) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553906)

So question is, what 'controls' or tells the cells when to start and stop? I would hope this is a question being asked, because it would seem to this simple geek that the answer to that would both unlock the usage of stem/cord/etc cells and perhaps aid in stopping cancer (when cells decide to go haywire).

Re:Tumors? (4, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554176)

So question is, what 'controls' or tells the cells when to start and stop? I would hope this is a question being asked, because it would seem to this simple geek that the answer to that would both unlock the usage of stem/cord/etc cells and perhaps aid in stopping cancer (when cells decide to go haywire).

Yep- that's the primary area of stem cell research today. How to get them to start, how to get them to stop, how to control what they turn into. And it's not one solution; different target tissues with different starting stem cells seem to require different growth and stopping solutions. And even then, the research is young- we can't be 100% sure.

Re:Tumors? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553608)

I am pretty sure that your suggestions have occured to them and for whatever reason won''t work. Generally speaking scientist don't reject more money because they want to work on projects that have more political turmoil.

OR... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553666)

OR.... as a method of replacing unhealthy humans/rats with healthy ones... why not allow nature to take its course? Generally speaking, the diseased specimens pass away, and new, healthy specimens are born via procreation. Pretty radical theory, I know. But it's time to think outside the box!

Re:OR... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553884)

Ok, but you go first on that whole passing-away thing. I need some more elbow room.

Re:Tumors? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553698)

As I recall, it's more complex than simply using alternative sources, but alternatives do need to be found as any widespread stem cell therapy would need a much broader source than you can possibly get from the excess embryos left over from fertility treatments.

Re:Tumors? (3, Interesting)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553728)

such research is funded at the federal level.

Speaking as a European, I can safely say, so what?

Re:Tumors? (4, Insightful)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553826)

Speaking as a European, I can safely say, so what?
Speaking as an American, "embryonic" stem cell research is one of those polarizing issues (like abortion) which at worst is ripping apart our nation and at best is keeping our representatives from cooperating with each other on the MUNDANE tasks of government because they are so busy stroking their respective constituencies passion with such hot-button issues

Re:Tumors? (3, Insightful)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553888)

Speaking as an American, "embryonic" stem cell research is one of those polarizing issues (like abortion) which at worst is ripping apart our nation and at best is keeping our representatives from cooperating with each other on the MUNDANE tasks of government because they are so busy stroking their respective constituencies passion with such hot-button issues

Okay. My point was, the rest of the world is zipping merrily ahead while the US sits and debates politics and/or religion, and turns good science into another chess piece. Better sort it out quick or you'll be left too far behind to catch up!

Re:Tumors? (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553876)

Unfortunately there are many among us fiercely addicted to ethics issues. Where no normal man has gone before these types can dredge up some strange ethical or moral issue at the drop of a hat. From my view we ought to be crossing gorillas with einsteins as we can create some great ball players who can also pass their exams. Besides it seems like our president was crossed with a jerk and a half already.

Baggage? (1)

MadAhab (40080) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553896)

There's no ethical baggage with most foetal stem cells either. Unless, of course, you subscribe to the crazy notion that life begins before preganancy...

Re:Tumors? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553996)

It's interesting. You have a link to whitehouse.gov as part of your profile. I'd say you might, just might, have an agenda. As for "ethical" baggage, not vigorously pursuing embryonic stem cell research is the only unethical act going on here. Bush and his supporters are responsible for the people who die because he is withholding Federal funding of this research.

Re:Tumors? (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554120)

And I've had that link in my profile since the 90's. Your point?

As for "ethical" baggage, not vigorously pursuing embryonic stem cell research is the only unethical act going on here.
Wouldn't you consider it unethical to spend limited public resources on research which has displayed far less promise than, say ADULT stem cell research? Maybe not "unethical", but certainly unsound fiscal policy...

Not that the current administration isn't currently spending like a drunken sailor...

Re:Tumors? (1)

Swift2001 (874553) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554102)

Because you only read the Creationist Genetics Journal. I myself see no ethical concern here. But you can disregard the views of non-Christians, agnostics, atheists, or anybody you want.

There have been lots of false starts in any field of medicine. Don't forget, Pasteur saved the boy from rabies only by taking an enormous ethical risk. Marie Curie died from radiation poisoning.

If adult stem cells can be used, that's fine. If stem cells from embryos have to be used, that's fine with me, too.

It did cure the people, didn't it. All therapies have side-effects. Figure out what happened, and try again.

Re:Tumors? (1)

grazzy (56382) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554230)

Ethics, you mean letting people die because some fundies doesnt like it? Now thats the etics I think nations are worth bombing because of!

Ideology trumping science and hurting people (1)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554246)

Presenting adult stem cells as an adequate substitute for embryonic stems cells is just not true. Adult stem cells lack the ability to differentiate as widely as embryonic stem cells, i.e. they are multipotent rather than pluripotent. I'm sure that you wish it were true because then you wouldn't be sacrificing the lives of people who could benefit from embyronic stem cell research for the sake of some balls of cells. But it isn't true. And that's what this is all about. So-called "pro-life" people are more concerned about non-feeling, non-thinking, undifferentiated balls of a thousand cells, than they are about living, breathing, feeling people. That's just fucked up.

That's nice, but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553466)

That's nice, but can they perform cunnilingus on a hardwood floor?

HA! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553488)

I always knew it. This stem cell shit is no good for us humans.
Stick to rats. And yeah, don't steal my tax money for those tumors you're growing.

Related Links (4, Funny)

Darlantan (130471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553504)

Does anybody else find it slightly disturbing that the "Related Links" section has a "Compare prices on biotech" link?

What are you trying to sell me today, /.?

How could it be? (-1, Troll)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553516)

Stem Cells are supposed be our Salvation from all manner of disease! The next step toward Eternal Life!
Oh, woe, woe, woe.
How could this have happened?

Re:How could it be? (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553612)

Because Stem Cells have been politicised left right and sideways.
Right, Embryonic Stem Cells == Baby-killing.
Left, The right want cancer patients to DIE to prove a point.

Welcome to politics in the 21st century. They both put things in the most extreme way possible.

Re:How could it be? (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554010)

They both put things in the most extreme way possible.

I agree, and it raises an important question - why are these political parties the only ones we are paying attention to?

Re:How could it be? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554188)

The problem is that the political parties feel the need to motivate the "faithful" in this case the extreme right and the extreme left.
Combine that with the joys of Blogs and the current news services and you have our current situation.
Extreme pays in headlines. Take a look at Slashdot sometime. You will fine the faithful that feel that anything the republican party opposes must be good. Of course you will find the exact opposite as well. Almost nobody wants to try and see the othersides point of view anymore.
Other parties? They tend to be more extreme than the ones we have now.

Calm down.... (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553518)

You know how you guys flip out over every "breakthrough" in an overheated university press release, and then wonder why that in-vitro or animal result didn't turn into a miracle cure a few months later?

This is the same thing, in reverse. It's an interesting, frustrating animal result in a pretty good journal, not a crashing doom for stem cell research.

Re:Calm down.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553716)

Dude, I don't know where you usually publish, but Nature Med is a top-tier journal. It's impact factor is 28.9 for 2005, putting it just behind Nature (29.2), Cell (29.4), and Science (30.9) and way ahead of Lancet (23.4) and JNCI (15.2). The only medical journal it's clearly worse than is NEJM (44.0) and that's far more clinical than basic.

Not disagreeing with your point, btw, but let's be fair: this is a piece of top-tier science from a big-name lab here, not some "interesting" results in a "pretty good" journal I'd say.

Re:Calm down.... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554198)

Hmmm, I hadn't known that -- I'd thought it was more towards the bottom of the Nature roster, not Nature Genetics-level. Thanks for the correction!

Anyway, the point wasn't to knock their publication (which, as you say, is really nice), but to dispel some of the apocalyptic tone of the linked article and "Stem Cell Therapy Causes Tumors".

According to Alex P. Keaton (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553528)

The Republicans are evil and want him dead. Vote Democrat.

Re:According to Alex P. Keaton (5, Insightful)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553966)

Vote Democrat... because the current Republican administration wants people to have Parkinson's disease.

Vote Republican... because Democrats want to give you cancer.

Vote Libertarian... because the government shouldn't be deciding for you if you want cancer or Parkinson's.

Re:According to Alex P. Keaton (1)

krebcycle (1007039) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554090)

Voting Libertarian in this situation is akin to voting Republican since all the Republicans are doing is attempting to limit Federal spending on embryonic stem cell research, which Libertarians would say should be limited to the private sector anyway.

A coding sequence cannot be revised once it's been (2, Funny)

cunina (986893) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553544)

established.

Because by the second day of incubation any cells that have undergone reversion mutation give rise to revertant colonies like rats leaving a sinking ship, then the ship sinks.

Re:A coding sequence cannot be revised once it's b (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554080)

I was just about to ask you what the hell you are talking about...

Re:A coding sequence cannot be revised once it's b (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16554234)

This is /.

He didn't say anything but watch it will still get modded +5 insightful.

It's tough... (5, Interesting)

posterlogo (943853) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553546)

...working with stem cells. There at two major practical problems. The first one is maintaining them -- you look at em wrong and the differentiate (BAM, no more stem cells, just some muscle, nerve, epidermal, etc. cells). The second is that BECAUSE they are so good at proliferating, they are prone to turn into tumors when introduced into the body. That isn't a new concern, it's just interesting that the research described here has actually observed that concurrently with alleviation of the targeted disease state (neurodegeneration in this case). I suspect the "fix" to this is already being developed, since the tissue they are destined to replaced in the brain is usually non-dividing tissue, it may be possible to engineer an 'off-switch' into the cells, whereby cell division could be permenantly disrupted (the tissue created by the stem cells would function as normal). This shouldn't be to hard, but does add to the effort already necessary to even generate patient-specific stem cells. More research!

Re:It's tough... (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553594)

telomeres would have to be cut off.... IIRC they are at the ends of each DNA strand and are the time guardian of how long a cell will divide.

On a totally unrelated note, i'm LOVING the spell checking in firefox 2

Re:It's tough... (1)

imbaczek (690596) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553616)

Wouldn't such an off-switch effectively be a cure for cancer? If it worked in artificially caused tumors, why wouldn't it in cancer?

Re:It's tough... (4, Interesting)

posterlogo (943853) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553730)

That's a good question -- I should have explained better. You can only use such an off-switch (or even kill-switch) if you FIRST had a purified sample of the cells to work with in culture. Then, through common cell culture/molecular biology techniques, it is possible to introduce genetic material that can behave how you want. Imagine a cell culture of stem cells, incorporating a DNA sequence to express a proliferation-halting protein in response to some chemical que. That is quite doable. Since a cancer originates in the person's body, it's not really possible to take it out, engineer it to incorporate the kill switch, and put it back. The stem cells are a defined cell culture that you CAN manipulate before introducing to the body. Only the so-called "gene therapy" can do that to cells already in the body, and that whole field is not having much luck lately.

HAHA! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553564)

Dear Devil Worshipping, Anti-Creation Evolutionists,

See, we told you!

Neener, neener!

Love,

The Fundies

pointy haired boss' take (2, Funny)

rgaginol (950787) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553568)

I could just imagine a pointy haired boss in a dilbert like biotech firm talking up the tumors as an extra "feature" - and make the parkinsons patients pay extra for it.

That's no problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553580)

Just give them that cancer cure for mice and they'll be fine.

Should I be worried that my capcha for this story is "plague"?

Glass half-empty reading (5, Interesting)

Goonie (8651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553586)

That headline reads like something straight out of the religious fundies' playbook in their dogmatic (and I use that word advisedly) opposition to experimenting on clumps of cells.

This is a partial success. The therapy did what it was supposed to do - it cured the Parkinson's Disease. It's just that the side effects are worse than the disease at this point. But that's a whole lot better news than it not working at all.

Everybody with even a modest understanding of how scientific research goes knows that the road from interesting phenomena to practical application is usually a long and complex one, and that the claims of instant cures for everything from heart attack to spinal cord injuries were exaggerated for the purposes of winning political debate. But when a trial has a partial success, in my view that is further encouragement to continue research.

Re:Glass half-empty reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16554024)

Not clump of cells in this case. It was a fetus. Everybody with even an inkling of how scientific research goes know that the road is lined with signs and limits, directions if you will some may call them ethics, and it is a windy complex road that requires much thought as to the effects of such research and impact on humanity. This is why this research piques the interests of ethicists and ethics require a set of morals, which is lacking quite a bit on the left. Thus it is up to the right to remind people of these things called "ethics" and press the brakes on such research, even if it means that existing lives may be impacted. Imagine if Dr Mengele and the eugenicists of the 20s and 30s were held to ethical standards and review.

Re:Glass half-empty reading (1, Funny)

fithmo (854772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554042)

It's just that the side effects are worse than the disease at this point.

That never stopped an antidepressant from reaching the market.

Re:Glass half-empty reading (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16554048)

Whoops, we forgot to worship puree'd babies as a research god? WTF. An experiment failed, and you blame the religious nuts. Did you read TFA, by the way? It talks about using fetal brain tissue. That's a little more advanced then "a clump of cells."

The funny part is that you're probably opposed to the death penalty.

Re:Glass half-empty reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16554200)

I guess we should have stopped with the first bird-like device that didn't work.

The reading reads the way it reads because it is NOT neutral. They are not reporting on research. They are reporting AGAINST research. It is just as bad as reporting FOR research. Research is attempt to gain knowledge, period. And since it worked in ways we didn't expect, that is just as good as if it worked 100% as predicted. Heck, even better because we learn things. It is only useless if it fails 100% of the time as predicted.

I hope some of you know the difference.

Of course (5, Insightful)

Thisfox (994296) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553606)

...And biology research has been proven to cause disease and death in rats...

Seriously though... It doesn't necessarily follow that the cure (especially a cure that is still in its infancy - 'scuse the joke) is better than the disease, and the idea is to do the research now so that we can use the stem cells to cure terrible illnesses (and repair missing limbs and all the rest of it) without the side effect of the stem cells going out of control.
Of course medicine has side effects. Many of the drugs given to a person on chemo and radio therapy are to keep them alive while the actual cure goes ahead and kills their cancer. As yet we are still learning how to control the stem cells, and they are doing what cells do when uncontrolled: making more of themselves and living life to the full. We'll get better at controlling them if we research them. That's why it's called stem cell research...

Whoops. (1)

Kynmore (861364) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553614)

Whoops. Wonder if they used rat stem cells on rats. I would think using any other species' DNA would definitly cause issues.

Re:Whoops. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553712)

Simply wants to grow a human brain

Re:Whoops. (1)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553948)

Although researchers often use human cells in mice (remember the ear they grew on the back of a mouse? [livescience.com] ), you're certainly correct in saying that this isn't exactly accurate in predicting human outcomes. I think your idea of having a comparative study with mice stem cells is a good one, although it might be difficult considering the difficulty of finding the dopamine producing cells in very small embryonic mice.

Now harvesting human fetal midbrain tissues is OK? (1, Insightful)

kbonin (58917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553622)

From the article: Goldman and his team took human fetal midbrain tissues, in which dopamine cells are made, and extracted glial cells, whose normal role is to support and maintain the growth of neurons. They then cultured stem cells in this glia-rich environment.

I'm sure they have an professional ethecist on board who told them all is well, but I'd say this goes a wee bit beyond the use of stem cells harvested from blastocysts. Where exactly did they obtain "human fetal midbrain tissues"?

I cringe in disgust at how far this slippery slope is progressing...

Re:Now harvesting human fetal midbrain tissues is (1)

bruins01 (992422) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553748)

Let's not assume that the fetus in question was conceived solely in the name of science, ok? There are TONS of pregnancies aborted for myriad reasons after many different durations of pregnancy. This is how society does, and should, benefit. The cure for Parkinson's part, not the brain tumor part.

Re:Now harvesting human fetal midbrain tissues is (1)

PowerEdge (648673) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553844)

The problem is, if it requires a fetus of a certain age to come up with therapies... and you have poor women in one part of the world or country and rich people in another part of the world / country. What is stop them from setting up a market where fetuses are created (in women) and then aborted solely for someone else's health and being? There are tricky ethical issues that have to be addressed and science operates, or should operate, within a code of ethics.

Re:Now harvesting human fetal midbrain tissues is (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553944)

There are tricky ethical issues that have to be addressed and science operates, or should operate, within a code of ethics.

Not really. Why not just culture them in a petri dish? Cells taken from ethically acceptable sources, of course. Given the right conditions, you could do it on an industrial scale, surely?

Re:Now harvesting human fetal midbrain tissues is (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554098)

Aren't you guys supposed to be all for the free-market and anti-government intervention?!
Come off it, it's not as if you need a large feedstock, just the occasional infusion to
replace "worn out" lines. Of course you need some ethics, but existing sources acceptable
to many/most (but anti-FSM hardliners) should suffice.
 

Re:Now harvesting human fetal midbrain tissues is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553784)

Michael J. Fox, PJPII, and Christopher Reeve will be cured if you vote Democrat this election. Oh, PJPII and Superman are dead? Well, President Bush should be held to account. We must act, before the next human being dies of some disease that could possibly be cured or treated by science. Republicans hate science.

Re:Now harvesting human fetal midbrain tissues is (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554032)

Where exactly did they obtain "human fetal midbrain tissues"?

Well now... IANASTR, but I'll go out on a limb and say "from the midbrains of human fetuses", with a pretty high level of confidence in my answer.



I cringe in disgust at how far this slippery slope is progressing...

What slippery slope? We have a significant portion of the population that deliberately aborts unwanted pregnancies. If someday we benefit from the use of their medical waste to cure Parkinson's or Alzheimer's or even just slow down plain ol' ageing - Good for me, good for you, good for everyone!

This doesn't require any sort of moral relativism to accept. It can provide nearly miraculous benefits for no (extra) cost. Sounds like a win/win, even if you take the FUD spewed by its worst opponents (tempered by a small dose of reality).

The fact that it causes tumors I consider an exceedingly inconvenient (if somewhat predictable) complication, but one we can hopefully overcome with continued research.



As an aside, I also fully encourage continued research into adult stem cells... Though not for any squeamish "oooh, no dead babies" line of BS. Nope - Simply for the far more pragmaic reason that tissue rejection doesn't present a problem after the cure itself takes effect.

Shut the fuck up luddite ass-clown. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16554084)

Dead things are mineral, or meat. There is nothing magical about any of them. There is no magic anywhere. If you're greatly concerned about the real ethical dilemmas that science occasionally unearths, and those other fancifal false dilemmas you imagine, might I humbly suggest you give up all of the good works that science has created in protest. Since I love my fellow man so much, here's a guide to get you started.

Step 1: GET OFF THE FUCKING INTERNET, AWAY FROM COMPUTERS AND ELECTRICITY.
Step 2: Never make use of any health care beyond tournequets, but including soap.

That you would begruge the gavely ill the promise of a future unburdened by disease for the monsters you imagine in shadowed corners of your safe and undisturbed life says much about your utter lack of character, and reminds the rest of us that what seperates us from the animals isn't our biology, but our capacity for reason. An admirable vice increasingly rare in modern humans. I'm not kidding when I say this: Please, for the rest of us, kill your blood relatives and yourself, in that order.

Bad programming. (5, Funny)

emjoi_gently (812227) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553650)

The human body is an example of really crap evolutionary programming. Horrible spagetti code with no thought to make things modular. New stuff tacked in using old variables. Functions with multiple purposes.

So when you debug one thing, something else brakes.

God was a terrible programmer. But I guess that's what you get with a tight 7 day timeframe.

Re:Bad programming. (1)

Thisfox (994296) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553786)

Actually the spagetti code, with its' multiple purpose functions, cancellations due to multiplications, and so on, and all the rest of the junk in it, is more proof of evolution than of a divine and perfect god-thing creating us in his image...

...Unless he's the result of evolution?

Re:Bad programming. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16554036)

ARGH! There's only ITS and IT'S. THERE IS NO "ITS'". Is it really that hard to comprehend?

NT (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553686)

By definition, human embryonic stem cells have the almost mythical, immortal power to grow and divide indefinitely as they become the various tissues that make up the body.

No they don't. Otherwise we wouldn't need to transplant them in the first place.

Good news, Mr. Johnson! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553808)

We've cured your Parkinson's disease! Yes, yes... a marvelous achievement... we are very pleased!

Mr. Johnson cheers and attempts to hug the doctor

Eh...one thing though... it appears though our Parkinson's cure has caused you to develop brain tumors... so you'll a die a horrible death pretty soon!

Really bad news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553820)

This could indicate a fundimental flaw in stem cells. Abnormal growth can lead to cancer which is effectively what stem cells do. It may require a form of cancer therapy to go along with stem cell treatment. Kind of like giving anti rejection drugs after tissue transplants. The trick is not making the cure worse than the desease.

Re:Really bad news (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554122)

It could also indicate that the growth control signaling in rats is enough different from that in humans that SOME component of human brain tissue doesn't get told to stop multiplying. Once one of the HUMAN stem cells in the rat's head differentiates into that tissue type, it has become a cancer from the rat's viewpoint.

A repressor protein... (1)

Atario (673917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553824)

...that blocks the operating cells?

Wouldn't obstruct replication, but it does give rise to an error in replication, so that the newly formed DNA strand carries a mutation and you're got a virus again...

Obligatory post (1)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553848)

Bah, tired of trying to figure out how to turn it into a relevant joke, so I'll just come out and say it: "It's NOT a TUUUUMAH!"

Gov. Schwarzenegger has issued a denial (0, Redundant)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553874)

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a major proponent of stem-cell research, has already issued a denial [swipnet.se] .

heard this before in BladeRunner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553882)

TYRELL
The facts of life. I'll be blunt. To make an alteration in the evolvement of an organic life system, at least by men, makers or not, is fatal. A coding sequence can't be revised once it's established.

BATTY
Why?

TYRELL
Because by the second day of incubation any cells that have undergone reversion mutation give rise to revertant colonies -- like rats leaving a sinking ship. The ship sinks.

BATTY
What about E.M.S. recombination?

TYRELL
We've already tried it -- ethyl methane sulfonate is an alkylating agent and a potent mutagen -- it creates a virus so lethal the subject was destroyed before we left the table.

Batty nods grimly.

BATTY
Then a repressor protein that blocks the operating cells.

TYRELL
Wouldn't obstruct replication, but it does give rise to an error in replication, so that the newly formed DNA strand carries a mutation and you're got a virus again... but all this is academic -- you are made as good as we could make you.

BATTY
But not to last.

I learned this in 1982 (2, Funny)

tsotha (720379) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553950)

Did't these scientists pay attention when they were kids?

Tyrell: The facts of life. To make an alteration in the evolvment of an organic life system is fatal. A coding sequence cannot be revised once it's been established.

Roy: Why not?

Tyrell: Because by the second day of incubation, any cells that have undergone reversion mutations give rise to revertant colonies like rats leaving a sinking ship. Then the ship sinks.

Roy: What about EMS recombination.

Tyrell: We've already tried it. Ethyl methane sulfonate as an alkylating agent a potent mutagen It created a virus so lethal the subject was dead before he left the table.

Roy: Then a repressive protein that blocks the operating cells.

Tyrell: Wouldn't obstruct replication, but it does give rise to an error in replication so that the newly formed DNA strand carries the mutation and you've got a virus again. But, uh, this-- all of this is academic. You were made as well as we could make you.

Read the article? (1)

DebateG (1001165) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553990)

It doesn't say that any of the rats developed tumors in the article. It merely acknowledges the possibility that they could:

But there could be alarming side effects. Each stem-cell transplant also contained cells that had failed to become neurons, and which remained undifferentiated. These cells keep dividing, and can turn into tumours, says Goldman. (The rats in the study were killed before any such tumours developed.)

This is certainly a possibility, but as other have mentioned, we should be more excited that they cured Parkinson's. Later and more long-term studies will show whether or not the cancer risk is real or not.

Hello Mr smith... (1)

kbox (980541) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554012)

... What do you want first? The good news or the bad news?
Well, the good news is we have cured your Parkinson's disease..........

Can we really outsmart nature? (1)

Bloodwine (223097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554088)

I place my trust in natural evolution rather than trying to cheat at life and death.

Its all about a delicate balance, and that balance is an ever-evolving, self-correcting force.

I figure it is a lot like Final Destination ... sure you may sidestep death, but only long enough for nature to catch its breath and come after you with a vengeance.

It's Called Research (4, Insightful)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554224)

Not every attempt at something new works the way you want the first time. The first heart transplant patient didn't live very long. The first medications for aids didn't work as well as what is out there now. That's why this kind of research is done on rats. *cough*eatshitpeta*cough* If medical research stopped the first time there was this kind of result, we'd all still be dying of yellow fever and polio. There are entirely too many people getting their shorts in a twist over this. Sheesh!

in 3... 2... (2, Funny)

meeotch (524339) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554236)

"researchers have cured a Parkinson's-like disease in rats. Unfortunately, the Parkinson's cure causes brain tumors."

"Take this object, but beware, it carries a terrible curse"

"Ooo, that's bad"

"But it comes with a free frogurt!"

"That's good"

"The frogurt is also cursed"

"That's bad"

"But you get your choice of toppings!"

"That's good"

"The toppings contain potassium benzoate..."

wow! (1)

Unknown_monkey (938642) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554240)

Good news everybody, we've cured skin cancer with stem cells. The bad news is it gives you testicular cancer. Even if you're female.

Ugh. (1)

L4m3rthanyou (1015323) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554258)

So, now the parties opposed to stem-cell research (who shall remain nameless) have ammunition for their FUD cannon. Great.

It looks like a minor setback in my eyes, only in need of further research and development. After all, it's not like we could expect the so-called "miracle cure" to be perfected overnight.
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