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Stem-Cell-Like Cells Produced From Skin

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the end-of-the-moral-debate dept.

Biotech 265

MikShapi writes "Skin cells can now be turned into something resembling stem cells. A genetic modification to four genes using a viral vector reverses differentiating, making the cells revert to a stem-cell state, capable for becoming any other cell in the body. The researchers are calling them 'iPS cells' or 'induced pluripotent stem cells.' In their experiments, iPS cells in the lab turned into nerve cells, heart muscle, and other tissues. The research was published in Cell and Nature by teams from the universities of Kyoto and Wisconsin. The article notes that if the new method proves successful, 'we can disconnect the whole stem cell debate from the culture war, from battles over embryo politics and abortion rights.' And, should this technique be adopted, stem cells will henceforth be abundant, easier and cheaper to come by for research and therapeutic purposes."

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follow-up story... (4, Funny)

MrAndrews (456547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427429)

And of course this discovery can't go without political interference... the White House is already condemning the discovery [pttbt.ca] , calling for a ban.

Re:follow-up story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21427531)

Apparently you missed the joke.

Re:follow-up story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21427579)

Or, more likely, you did...

Re:follow-up story... (1)

locokamil (850008) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427939)

How was this modded +3 Insightful?

Re:follow-up story... (2, Informative)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427943)

I'm pretty sure that story is satirical.

Re:follow-up story... (0, Troll)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427975)

Informative??

Please mod me to hell so I can rid myself of this dirty karma.
I need soap and hot water.

Informative? (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428009)

It's humor:

...the case of Dr Alfred Mencina of the Harvard School of Environment Studies, who published a paper contradicting official White House policy, and was subsequently found full of birdshot off a quail hunting range in Maine. "Skin is bad, and I can't wait to get rid of it," said Dr Wilson Triplehorn, a genetics professor at USC, "Someone get me a carrot peeler. And tell the Vice President I like his tie. Heh. Ouch!"
It's a few years before they'll actually start shooting scientists.

Informative? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428027)

Also from the site:

# Bush Bans Growing Skin, Baffles Scientists
# UK Donates 15M Private Records to Help Bolster Russian Economy
# The Long Tail of Sexy
# Apple Using IMEI Number to Prolong Your Life
# Rainbow Rights Activists Decry Prism Cruelty
# "Most Dangerous Cities" Go On Attack, Kill 5

This is why I don't like the "mod it informative instead of funny because funny doesn't give karma" bit. It's a humor blog and a damn hilarious one at that.

this post (1)

legallyillegal (889865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427431)

was produced by text

nigger (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21427445)

i hate fucking niggers.

Re:nigger (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21427457)

then don't fuck them?

Re:nigger (0, Flamebait)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427659)

extremely good point. Sex usually isn't forced, unless it is related to some religious belief system you follow. In that case, change your religion.

Almost Shat My Pants (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21427467)

I was trying to discretely pass gas infront of some coworkers onmy lunch break.

I felt an unexpected splatter and cut off my fart prematurely.

At the first opportunity I ducked in to the bathroom to inspect the damage. The space between my ass cheeks was completely covered in shit. Luckily, My underware was clean and I was spared the embarassment of explaining how I had just shat my pants in front of every body. That was close, and that's something to be thankful for.

The science! (1)

Besna (1175279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427477)

Do we preface every cookbook with a discussion about suffering? Somehow, everything about stem cells has to be about ethics. Is there any way to get straight science on the subject? What can it do? How is it done? Cool or not?

Re:The science! (4, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427555)

Quite frankly, up until this point, everything about stem cells was about ethics. That is what makes this story so humongous.

Re:The science! (-1, Flamebait)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427631)

Quite frankly, up until this point, everything about stem cells was about ethics. That is what makes this story so humongous.
Yep. Except the stem cells are created by adding genes to skin cells via a virus. I wonder if this breakthrough will be held back with bible-thumpers claiming God wants skin cells to remain skin cells and setting back the research for ANOTHER decade.

Re:The science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21427849)

"I wonder if this breakthrough will be held back with bible-thumpers claiming God wants skin cells to remain skin cells and setting back the research for ANOTHER decade."

No. They won't. Shut up and move along.

Re:The science! (3, Insightful)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427879)

Nope. I object to using embryos for research, but I have no objections to non-embryonic stem cell research. We will support this research to attempt to divert interest and funding from embryonic research. I think it's great that this not only eliminates the interest in doing things the other way, but that it is simpler, less expensive, and has the potential to eliminate potential difficulties from finding genetic matches.

I wonder, if we hadn't been objecting, would anybody have attempted to find this alternative, or would researchers have considered the embryonic method good enough?

Re:The science! (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428021)

While i agree your correct that if this method proves viable it would be better then an embryonic source, I still think your objection to embryonic research is down right stupid.

stem cell researchers were using cells from unused IVF samples, not killing babies as you people like to compare it to. I can't even begin to understand how you could equate a couple of cells in a petree dish to a human.

And no, this line of research would still have been pursured without your stupid agenda, because it solves other problems not rooted in religous objections. So you don't get to claim this is some kind of victory.

Re:The science! (5, Interesting)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428539)

equate a couple of cells in a petree dish to a human

And that is where we disagree. And I'm sure you can understand this line of thought even if you don't agree with it. It goes to the question of what is a human deserving of human rights. We consider it a unique being with DNA, post-fertilization.

We find this definition has a scientific and ethical clearity that can avoid a lot of the horrors of history that now (most of) humanity regrets based on what counts as a human worthy of protection.

We've found your previous and current standards of tribe/religion/family/ethnicity/sexuality/age/disability/ or simply 'might makes right' distinctions to be unworthy of our species.

So you disagree - so if we are not persuasive, are we at least not 'stupid?'

you don't get to claim this is some kind of victory

To quote Jerry Sienfeld's response when he was told he was not in listed in the top 10 of comedians in the history of America but was instead number twelve, I'll take it.

Re:The science! (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428895)

I can't even begin to understand how you could equate a couple of cells in a petree dish to a human.

At what age does a human/zygote make the cut so that it is no longer available for scientific research? Two months? Six months? Birth? Five years? When they are potty trained? What classifies a human as a human deserving human rights? What test must be passed before that clump of cells is human? Who are you to decide? What if the government decided the age of liberty was your age +1? How would that make you feel?

Re:The science! (2, Funny)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428205)

Yep. Except the stem cells are created by adding genes to skin cells via a virus. I wonder if this breakthrough will be held back with bible-thumpers claiming God wants skin cells to remain skin cells and setting back the research for ANOTHER decade.

I would guess it more likely that the breakthrough will be held back by people who don't want their skin to turn to stem cells before their eyes because of some virus escaped from the research labs.

Then again, someone's probably already claimed movie rights on this and will sue anyone who voices this idea.

Re:The science! (4, Insightful)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427953)

I'd say that one of the main ethical issues is that it is unethical to tell people that a ban on federal funding for new embryonic stem cell lines would spare the destruction of those embryos when it only really means that those embryos would be destroyed as medical waste instead.

Re:The science! (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428411)

It's not that already created embryos would be destroyed, it's that if a cure were ever found using embryonic cells instead of alternative methods such as this, the 'need' for embryos would far outstrip the supply, then it would become common practice to create more embryos specifically for the purpose of killing them. I suppose if you define human life as beginning at some time other than the first moment there exists a complete genetic code for building a new human in a single cell, you can consider this ethically permissible, but it seems to me that seems to be scientifically deficient position.

Re:The science! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428819)

I suppose if you define human life as beginning at some time other than the first moment there exists a complete genetic code for building a new human in a single cell, you can consider this ethically permissible, but it seems to me that seems to be scientifically deficient position.

In my view, the scientifically deficient position is that life has a beginning.

The concept of being alive is a vaguely defined multi-dimensional continuum. Some things are more alive and some things are less alive. Some things are more alive in one way and less alive in another way. The idea that life (and "not life") is somehow a clear binary distinction has no basis in factual observation. Of course, even more fundamentally, the idea that "life" must be preserved and protected has no basis in science and only an indirect basis in fields of ethics and aesthetics - but that's a topic for another time.

Anyway, the most accurate scientific statement is that life is passed continuously from parents to children. If life had a "beginning", that beginning would have been millions of years ago when the first nucleic acids started making copies of themselves. Sperm is alive (and human - in the case of human sperm). Unfertilized egg cells are alive (and human - in the case of human egg cells).

Based on factual observation, over time an embryo/fetus develops attributes that make it desirable from an ethical or aesthetic perspective to preserve the the embryo/fetus's life. For example, eventually a fetus probably develops an ability to feel pain. A late term fetus may even have a rudimentary will to live. An embryo/fetus also begins to look progressively more "human" and many people have an aversion to killing things that look human.

What needs to happen with this whole business is that the law needs to recognize that, based on factual observation, there is no distinct boundary between alive and not alive. Instead there is a gradual development of attributes that make destruction increasingly undesirable. A fertilized human egg cell has essentially no attributes that makes its destruction undesirable. A late term fetus has most of the same attributes that make destruction of adult humans undesirable.

People do all kinds of crazy things on the basis of beliefs that have no basis in science. That's just the way life is. But, when it comes to positions that are scientifically deficient, the most scientifically deficient position with regard to this issue is that life is a binary state that has a distinct beginning.

Re:The science! (3, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428823)

I'd say that one of the main ethical issues is that it is unethical to tell people that a ban on federal funding for new embryonic stem cell lines would spare the destruction of those embryos when it only really means that those embryos would be destroyed as medical waste instead.

Think of it this way. The government wants to do X. X in itself is not that bad, but it is a minor version of Y, which is totally unacceptable. X can lead to Y if you are not careful. Do you allow X?

Now let's say X is limited wire tapping of international phone calls without a warrant and Y is a police state. Do you allow X?

Now the way I see it is this. X is experimenting with human embryos. Y is experimenting with fully formed humans. Do you allow X?

If you did not provide the same answer for both, can you explain why?

Re:The science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428989)

X is experimenting with human embryos. Y is experimenting with fully formed humans. Do you allow X?

How about "X is experimenting with cells that are identical to cells found in human embryos." Do you allow X?

As to your other example, very few people object to wire tapping international phone calls, per se, what they object to is wire tapping phone calls that may involve US citizens or people on US soil or both (more specifically, people who fall under the jurisdiction/control of the US government) without oversight to be sure that "X does not lead to Y" - the whole "not careful" part.

Getting back to the embryonic stem cells issue, go ahead and put all the checks and balances you want into place to make sure that fully formed humans are not subjected to bad scientific experiments. Personally, I think there already a number of adequate checks and balances in place but I'm not opposed to a few more.

How about this? I'll worry about whether there are adequate checks and balances to prevent wiretapping from leading to a police state and you worry about whether there are adequate checks and balances to prevent stem cell researchers from trying to perform their stem cell experiments on adult humans.

Re:The science! (2, Insightful)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427957)

I understand perfectly what you're talking about, but it's not ethics that are the issue it's morality. To a dying man using a blastocyst to cure him is the ethical decision as it saves his life and allows him to continue to contribute to society. To a person who believes that the blastocyst is a living person then this is an immoral decision because to them it's killing another human. I hate to nitpick, but people often confuse the two.

Re:The science! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428245)

Except there is no blastocyst destroyed for the purpose even theoretically. IVF waste, thrown out as medical waste, or used for research and treatment. The opposition would rather burn it than have it used to help people.

Re:The science! (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428615)

Just a note, I agree with you and you're right. Also WHOOOOOOSH!!!(Cluebyfour: Post was about the difference between morality and ethics. Burning IVF waste is still a moralistic decision rather than ethical.)

No hard feeling?:P

Re:The science! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428327)

Quite frankly, up until this point, everything about stem cells was about politics . That is what makes this story so humongous.
There, fixed that for you.

Re:The science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21427731)

Do we preface every cookbook with a discussion about suffering?
No, but I'd like to think that's what makes the cookbooks I write such good sellers.

Oblig. (0, Offtopic)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427483)

I for one welcome our new skin cell based stem-cell overlords.

As mentioned on Fark... (5, Funny)

Linux_ho (205887) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427513)

Now all those people getting abortions in the name of science can finally stop.

Futurama (4, Funny)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427553)

Farnsworth: As a man it has become too much of a chore for me to clean out my wrinkles each day. Is it true that stem cells may fight the aging process?

Geneworks Woman: Well yes, in the same way an infant may fight Muhammed Ali! But -

Farnsworth: One pound of stem cells please.

Won't somebody think of the children? (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427559)

Unemployed thanks to the heartless advance of technology. How sad.

The Wisconsin paper is not in Nature (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21427561)

This won't stop them turning it into an issue.... (-1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427679)

These assholes who are against stem cell research will just find a new angle to attack this research. They will claim we are playing god or some such retarded objection.

i mean after all wtf is wrong with playing god? if we listened to these whacko's we'd still be praying on our needs in a dirt hut.

If i was a rich billionaire i'd pump shit tins of money into stem cell research and have them make me some kind of catdog style animal.

MOD PARENT TROLL (0, Troll)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427777)

Look, while a small minority of people may attack this research it will not get the kind of condemnation as embryonic stem cell research. I am against Embryonic stem cell research and I am not against this research. I think South Park made the best argument against using unborn baby tissue as research. There is no reason to drag religion through the mud because you don't understand the issue.

Re:MOD PARENT TROLL (1)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428737)

There is no reason to drag religion through the mud because you don't understand the issue.

You're right, the best reason to drag religion through the mud is because it doesn't understand the little concept we like to call reality.

Re:MOD PARENT TROLL (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429271)

Your signature makes a false assumption. That is that Religion is between people. Religion is about a relationship with God.

Re:MOD PARENT TROLL (1)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429369)

So what's Thor telling you these days?

Re:MOD PARENT TROLL (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429435)

Religion is about a relationship with God in the same way that little kids have "relationships" with invisible friends.

Re:MOD PARENT TROLL (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429499)

Your signature makes a false assumption. That is that Religion is between people. Religion is about a relationship with God.

Word games. That sounds all well and good, but ignores reality. You see, organized religion (which is what we all mean when we say "religion" hereabouts, it does not refer to some unique personal profession of faith) is all about people, not God. In the end, if it turns out that God is just another of Man's less useful inventions, even that caveat will go away.

More to the point, it's all about people doing things to each other in the name of God. If it were true (and it isn't) that the bulk of the faithful were permitted their own personal belief systems, their own ways of communing with God, without any dogma or ritual being imposed upon them from without ... you might be right. But that's not the way it is. Organized religion is, at the core, all about social control, with compliance encouraged by the threat of eternal damnation and the dangling promise of everlasting life.

God has less to do with that most people want to admit.

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (1)

overunderunderdone (521462) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427817)

That's not entirely fair. As far as I've seen the folks against federally funded stem cell research have always been enthusiastic about any source of stem cells other than embryos.

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (1)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427843)

If i was a rich billionaire i'd pump shit tins of money into stem cell research and have them make me some kind of catdog style animal.
damn furries

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (1)

WeblionX (675030) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428135)

Damned bigots.

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428255)

It's not bigoted. Furries are the minority that DESERVES persecution.

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429405)

Heh - if there's anything will freak the fundies out more than a bunch of gays, it will be a bunch of genetically-modified furry gays (or even hermaphrodites if you want to go way over the top).

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427855)

If I had billions and wanted to get into this kind of thing what I would do is buy all the gold that I can so that I can have a hard gold standard currency. Then I would buy an island (large), declare it a sovereign state, build the infrastructure to support the science facilities and data centers, and finally a nice place for people to live. After all of that I would invite any scientist that wants to have fewer chains on them to come live and research there. There would be a few basic rules such as no WMD, no full human cloning, no human chimera, and human experimenting. I would also encourage scientists there to sell finished projects to help support the island. Just a little idea for anyone with far vaster amounts of money than I.

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (1)

0star (886611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428101)

Well I for one am glad you don't have the billions to do this. How many insufficiently tested products have killed people under the current research rules? For example, because people and other drugs can respond differently, drug side effects slip through still in our current research and testing rules. I assume you would allow bioengineered foods and animals because you are not specifically prohibiting them. What a serious danger that could be without proper research rules and the moral underpinnings to consider the effects on society. Hey, how about bio-engineered monkeys - made smarter and subservient - that we will end up turning into a race of trained slaves?

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (1)

Lord of Hyphens (975895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429413)

"Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?" -- Andrew Ryan, founder of Rapture

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (4, Insightful)

0star (886611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427935)

As opposed to the other extreme, where science has no sense of morality and is only another function of the wants of the state. Like the Nazi's and Imperial Japanese in WWII experimenting on live humans. Such as testing biolgical warfare on them, the identical twin studies of Mengele, Japanese scientists dissecting Allied prisoners alive, and so on. Or the US for a scientific study letting blacks with syphilis go untreated for decades. And who knows what the USSR and the Chineses did/are doing. Science has to have some moral responsibility for its research and conclusions. The hard part is where to draw the line, and reasonable people can disagree on that.

Not Godwin... (0, Offtopic)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428041)

Before anyone tries to trot out the tired old claim of 'Godwin', just realize that the parent here is not comparing an unrelated action to the Nazis. Sometimes Nazis are an apt comparison.

While I doubt that the parent and I would agree where the line is, he is absolutely correct in pointing out that the question is not right or wrong, but where we draw the line.

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428109)

godwins law always applies.

people only ever trot out the nazi comparision with that exact agenda.

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (1)

0star (886611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428235)

Oh for Pete's sake. I also mention the Imperial Japanese, the USA, the USSR, and the Chinese for some scientific crimes against humanity to make the larger point. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, as the saying goes.

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428869)

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21429441)

The hard part is where to draw the line, and reasonable people can disagree on that.

There's all this talk of drawing lines but the way things work in practice is that it's more of a balancing of benefits versus harms.

Even as we speak, the US military is over in Iraq killing innocent children. Not just zygotes, or embryos or fetuses but actual walking, talking, living children. The idea, of course, is that whatever the US military is accomplishing in Iraq is important enough to just killing these children. Maybe by killing these children the US military is even saving the lives of some other children (or maybe they're just securing some oil for Bush's friends) but, on the other hand, maybe by killing some embryos scientific research could also save the lives of some other children. Either way, the children/embryos don't get a say in the matter of whether they get sacrificed "for the greater good".

Sure, it's aesthetically pleasing and simple and easy to under stand and all that, but this notion that there is a line that should not be crossed under any circumstances is just not how the world works.

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (1)

cstdenis (1118589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428181)

The flurries wont need costumes anymore.

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (2, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428527)

These assholes who are against stem cell research will just find a new angle to attack this research. They will claim we are playing god or some such retarded objection.

i mean after all wtf is wrong with playing god? if we listened to these whacko's we'd still be praying on our needs in a dirt hut.

If i was a rich billionaire i'd pump shit tins of money into stem cell research and have them make me some kind of catdog style animal.


Wow! That's not only a troll, but 100% Grade-A Certified Organic FUD!

Conservatives, or more accurately, Christian Conservatives, have nothing against stem cell research. Hell, Bush was the first president in history to authorize funding of stem cell research. Yes, George Bush authorized funding for stem cell research, as long as the money was not spent on NEW stem cell lines derived from embryos. Existing stem cell lines from embryo's, chord blood stem cells, this type of stem cells, or any other, is fine and government funded. This type of funding is perfectly fine with everyone, including Christian Conservatives.

So your comment only shows that you are either ignorant or the facts or simply a liar. Which one is it?

COME ON SLASHDOT!!! MOD PARENT UP! (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429439)

Who Modded the parent as flamebait? Since when is stating the facts flamebait? He was calling the Grandparent a Troll and get's modded as Flamebait? What in the world. If this is how you are going to play then I might call it quits on Slashdot. This is insane. The point is that people do not understand the issues surrounding the Governments actions in relation to Embryonic Stem Cell Research. They didn't ban it. They just cut funding on new stem cell lines from embryos.

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (1)

ncohafmuta (577957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428683)

I myself have no problem with them playing god. the objections against getting stem cells from embryos is just plain, well, stupid. sorry, it is.
do you save a sentient creature by killing a non-sentient creature? that's a no-brainer, of course you do. if we followed the bible-thumpers, none of us would eat meat, fruits, vegetables, well, anything non-sentient. hell, the Christians are eating sentient creatures, so who are they to throw their hands in the air about something like this? oh, it's about humans, sorry, big difference to god.

-Tony

Re:This won't stop them turning it into an issue.. (0)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429527)

What fuckwit modded this guy troll? He's only stating the truth. There are people that are against any progress, especially if it involves modification of the human genome. Somebody should convince Mr. Gates that this kind of research would be a worthy investment for some of his billions. Besides ... if it pans out he might live a lot longer.

Hope it works (3, Informative)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427699)

Here's hoping it works, the less controversial science is the more likely projects will get funded for it. Just look at cloning in the US.

Thiswill remain controversial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428427)

This will remain controversial: they just announced the creation of a virus that can result in teratomas.

-- Terry

This is Incredibly Exciting to me (2, Insightful)

director_mr (1144369) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427725)

There are a number of reasons why this could be a huge development. The biggest thing on my mind is that this solves the whole question of were to get all the stem cells you need for what you want to do. Now the source can be the very patient you are working on. I'm going to watch this with great interest.

How will the skin get harvested? (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427831)

Just how much skin will we need? Will it be like blood banks? Instead of needles and cookies they'll hand you a loofa [wikipedia.org] and tell you to start scrubbing. That would work if dry skin is what they need. If they need fresh moist skin then maybe each of us will be on the hook to 'donate' a 1 inch by 1 inch square from our buttock of choice.

Re:How will the skin get harvested? (1)

Walzmyn (913748) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428331)

I believe a cheek swab will be the method of choice. I heard it referenced on the radio. Also, check cells tend to sluff off pretty easily but still be intact.

Viable (4, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427893)

As long as the skin cells are not taken through a form that could be considered a viable human, I think this should end the ethical problems with stem cells nicely.

The issue people have with stem cell research is not stem cells per se, but that the harvesting of embryonic stem cells results in the destruction of a viable human.

Remember, religious people haven't had issues with adult stem cell research -- which this is. It's only embryonic stem cell research and SCNT processes which result in a viable human that people take ethical issues with.

If this can directly transform a skin cell into heart cells or whatever without moving through an "embryonic" state, then it's really the best of both worlds.

Re:Viable (5, Informative)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427983)

Remember, religious people haven't had issues with adult stem cell research

It's always been false to blame "religious nuts" as being the only ones against harvesting embryonic stem cells. I'm an atheist, and I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of medical experiments on viable humans.

Re:Viable (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428715)

Ethics-ly inclined people, then. =)

Re:Viable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428961)

I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of medical experiments on viable humans.

You've got to realize, though, that by the time the embryos are considered for stem cell use, they're no longer "viable" in any real sense. All stem cell work has been done on excess IVF embryos which were otherwise destined for the medical incinerator. There was less-than-getting-hit-by-lightning chance that they'd ever be implanted. They are, in every reasonable way, at least as "dead" as any adult tissue donation. (i.e. no brain activity, no heartbeat, no voluntary or involuntary muscle movement, and if they are left in their current state (in a freezer or a petri dish - remember they're never going to be implanted) they will never regain any semblance of any of the above - cellular processes are still going, but that's the case with biopsy tissue and donated organs.)

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but please be aware that, if you consider stem-cell embyros to be "viable humans", orders of magnitude more "viable humans" are destroyed by discarding excess IVF embryos and by abortion than have ever been used to produce stem cells.

Re:Viable (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429161)

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but please be aware that, if you consider stem-cell embyros to be "viable humans", orders of magnitude more "viable humans" are destroyed by discarding excess IVF embryos and by abortion than have ever been used to produce stem cells.

Yes, that's true, but there is such a thing as dying with dignity. If an embryo is not going to be used, I'd rather see them destroyed in a dignified way than just say, "well, they ain't goin' anywhere, let's do some experiments! Yeee HAW!"

And I'm against abortion as well for these same reasons. And there's no arguing that those embryos aren't viable.

Re:Viable (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429043)

While I am no Atheist (I lack the required faith on something I can't prove neither it exist nor it doesn't) I am also very uncomfortable with people experimenting on "human precursors" or however you label those.

As someone pointed out earlier, if the most viable route to get stem cells is harvesting embryos, the demand will be so huge as to create an economic incentive for people to make as many of them as they can sell stem cells.

And that is plain ugly.

If we cross that barrier, how long until we start using human stem cells to make (forgive me, Arthur) beef?

Re:Viable (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429303)

You're practically the only one. Almost everyone else opposed to embryonic stem cell research has a religious affiliation.

Re:Viable (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429401)

You're practically the only one. Almost everyone else opposed to embryonic stem cell research has a religious affiliation.

I think that's more a function of religious people having an organized voice that makes it into the media.

Re:Viable (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429585)

Is 'viable human' specific enough to be meaningful?

Re:Viable (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429373)

"I think this should end the ethical problems with stem cells nicely."
Said the scientist as he threw the Bag O' Embryoes into the trash can.

It's not the end of the debate though. (4, Interesting)

ahfoo (223186) | more than 6 years ago | (#21427897)

The real debate goes far deeper than merely how to create patient specific stem cells. The real issue is longevity and let's hope we're getting closer to where there's something worth arguing about.

You'd think everybody is in favor of longevity, but one of Bush's early science advisers made it clear that he was opposed to life extension in principle and Bush explicitly backed him up on that. It blew me away, but they clearly were making the case in favor of death. Personally, I was shocked at this and I brought it up with some people in my family and I was even more surprised to find that a lot of the older people were sympathetic to the idea that death was something that shouldn't be messed with.

Personally, I say fuck that. Ya'll can be my witnesses, I want to live as long as freakin' possible and if I end up lookin' like Frankenstein carrying my head in the jar in the crook of my sewn on arm then all the better. Sounds good to me.

Some of the arguments in favor of death are kinda lame. I've heard the economic argument over and over. This is a popular one. It's like the economy would get all screwed up if people stopped dying on seventy year clocks because all the old geezer's saving would just accumulate insane interests until the oldest people had all the money. Okay, I can see that but this is not a good reason for people to die. Money aint that big a deal if we all had indefinite life spans. I'm sure we could calmly negotiate something once everyone had matured a few hundred years.

Another pro-death argument is the idea of overpopulation. I think I have a sweet answer to this one and this is what I really wanted to post about. See, the key is that you've got to have an answer that appeals to a really silly level of religious symbolism and I think I got it.

What you do is, you say that anybody who wants to extend their life past a certain age and have children will have to voluntarily exile themselves into orbit or the moon or some other place off the surface of the earth. This is the perfect solution. Why? Because, the result is that the people who accept eternal life can only do so if they . . . wait for it. . . go to heaven.

Is that sweet or what?

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (1)

Copperfield (1117631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428157)

Vonnegut wrote about people like you.

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (1)

insanecarbonbasedlif (623558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428377)

Totally sweet. I like your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428477)

It's like the economy would get all screwed up if people stopped dying on seventy year clocks because all the old geezer's saving would just accumulate insane interests until the oldest people had all the money.

Errr, no, that's not how retirement usually works. Look at it this way -- do the really old people in your community look like they're rolling in money? Warren Buffett will earn interest way in excess of his spending (and in excess of inflation) but your typical 150-year-old is unlikely to have enough capital and investment acumen to make that fly.

On the other hand, I can't think of any flaws in your plan to enable immortality and then exile the immortals to the moon.

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (2, Interesting)

Xordan (943619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428751)

People also tend to forget that 'extending life' doesn't have to be 'living like a corpse in a bed'. If we can extend life for long periods (say 300 years) then the chances are we'll be able to make people at the age of 200 be in the same condition as a 50 year old person. So the retirement age will rise to 250 or something and the economy will adapt to this, just like it's adapted to the average age increasing so much over the last 200 years or so.

As for overpopulation.. there's an (as good as) infinite amount of space out there. We're probably going to run into this problem anyway, so any extension to age will only accelerate the issue. I'm sure that one day in the future, 'overpopulation' will be as big a buzz phrase as 'global warming' for our politicians, and it'll be dealt with (even if for the wrong reasons).

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (1)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428769)

This is a popular one. It's like the economy would get all screwed up if people stopped dying on seventy year clocks because all the old geezer's saving would just accumulate insane interests until the oldest people had all the money.
I'm not sure where you heard of this argument, but shouldn't it be that old people eventually run out of their savings and become social liability? Given the current level of medical expense, we cannot nearly afford it without working and paying insurance; not to mention that while medicines have progressed considerably, no major disease seems to be completely curable without life-long medication.

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428997)

not to mention that while medicines have progressed considerably, no major disease seems to be completely curable without life-long medication.
Sadly this is due to the fact that very little research is done to find cures.

Some of course is done, mostly in research, hospital, and university levels, which is almost the longest point to a usable treatment one can get, but it is better than nothing.

Most if not every last pharma company has a negative value interest in finding cures. Cures cut into profit margins. Treating symptoms for the rest of a persons life is what they want, thus all they look into doing.

I'd hope that once the richest people can afford to extend their life, they might start dumping some money into research on cures, out of self interest. Of course if they are greedy, you might have to hope you get the same problem those people get, else no money will have been tossed at your problem yet.

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (1)

Azuma Hazuki (955769) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428799)

So...since they're in favor of death can we kill them? I *know* it doesn't work that way, but I can dream...

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428981)

I agree with you on most of the issues you raise, except some of the ...

Ow wait, no, I think you're a moron, that's it.

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (1)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429007)

...one of Bush's early science advisers made it clear that he was opposed to life extension in principle and Bush explicitly backed him up on that.

References, please? My google-fu isn't up to finding any such quote from Bush. I would expected such an explicit opposition to life to have generated quite a furor among the pro-life community...

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (2, Insightful)

zoltamatron (841204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429179)

+5 Interesting??? Jeez....Maybe this is one position that I actually agree with Bush on....living forever (or trying to) is ridiculous. Like someone else stated before, the real conundrum is the social liability that old people have on the world. It's one thing to live forever, but if you do so for 50 years after being a socially productive member of society for only 65, then the economy quickly becomes unsustainable and healthcare costs crush the country. If you can keep the ratio of productive years to retired years constant, then sure....live to be 200, just don't expect to retire until you're 150.

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429241)

"You'd think everybody is in favor of longevity, but one of Bush's early science advisers made it clear that he was opposed to life extension in principle and Bush explicitly backed him up on that. It blew me away, but they clearly were making the case in favor of death."

I can pretty much support the case against extending their lives. I am just surprised they agree.

But let's not exaggerate our enthusiasm with that specific idea. I am also sure it will take more than their natural lifetimes to undo all the damage their mindset brought.

And one can always hope they see the light.

Re:It's not the end of the debate though. (1)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429597)

This is actually a very valid point.
Stem Cells play an important part in the closest thing we have to an engineering roadmap to cure aging [sens.org] .

They're not a silver bullet, and shouldn't be treated as such, but it's a crucial piece that both directly addresses some of the causes of aging, and significantly complements our biomolecular toolbox, which in turn we are and will be using to solve a miriad of other problems.

Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21427969)

Wait. So, we killed all those fetuses for nothing?

Short answer is yes.... there is no long answer (1)

zibix (654122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428131)

This is what the intelligent scientists have been saying for years. There's never been any real successful scientific movement based upon Fetal Stem Cell research, but as soon as you point that out, you're branded by the Leftist Zealots.

Big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428025)

If the religious nuts had issues with cloning (which creates life) they will find something wrong with this. That's just how they are. Whining is their essence.

Sunburn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428747)

Great, now when I get a sunburn, I'll be accused of killing babies.

My one worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21428777)

I worry that this will be yet another cause for doctors to circumcise babies. They sell the skin to so many other causes, motivating them to push male genital mutilation, already. This will just give them one more reason. I, for one, want my foreskin back.

Someone is going to bash me but... (2, Insightful)

Edis Krad (1003934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21428873)

...looking at this, I think it wasn't so bad that there was a strong opposition to embryonic stem cell research in the first place. If you think about it, this forced scientists to find a new source for stem cells. Now they hit the jackpot, since skin cells are much more available, and can be easily grown in a lab.

Damn fucking stupid christers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21429095)

Now the damn fucking stupid bigoted christers have got no objection they haven't got a leg to stand on the damn fucking braindead waferchomping embryo worshiping bigots!

Damn fucking christer bigots jesus on a pogo stick these assholes wouldn't know an embryonic from a nonembryonic stem cell if it came up and bit them on their fucking genuflecting asses

Christers are all illiterate braindead bigots they don't know how to read anyhow, mary should of had an abortion then we wouldn't be in this mess with all these damn bigoted christers in the first place

Embryonic Stem Cells - not a threat (0)

writerjosh (862522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21429467)

I'm glad they're finding ways around having to use embryonic stem cells, but just for those who are still against embryonic stem cells (if it turns out that we still need to use them), we're not destroying a human, we're destoying a pitre dish of cells. See this great visual demo: http://www.sumanasinc.com/webcontent/animations/content/stemcells_scnt.html [sumanasinc.com] I just wanted to clarify for those who still think the embryo we're talking about is a little baby: it's not -- it's literally a mass of cells -- that's all.
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