OYB June 8

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: I Kings 3:3-28, I Kings 4
NT: Acts 6:1-15
Ps: Psalm 126
Pr: Proverbs 16:26-27

Today´s notable verse:

8 Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.

Acts 6:8-10 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog's comments for today.

Missile Strike Kills Zarqawi in Iraq

Filed in PoliticsTags: Military, War on Terror

One less terrorist mastermind:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the mastermind behind hundreds of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings whose leadership of the insurgent group al- Qaeda in Iraq made him the most wanted man in the country, was killed Wednesday evening by an air strike near Baqubah, north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday.

...

Zarqawi, a Sunni, was killed along with seven aides, officials said.

...

Zarqawi was killed in a rural house in the village of Hib Hib, about 55 miles northwest of Baqhdad, Maliki said.

"Tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders from his network led forces to al-Zarqawi and some of his associates who were conducting a meeting . . . when the air strike was launched," [U.S. General George W.] Casey said.

He said Zarqawi's identify was confirmed by "fingerprint verification, facial recognition and known scars."

Via RedState.com.

More here, here, here, here, here, here, and of course, Ask The Cats.

OYB June 7

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: I Kings 2, I Kings 3:1-2
NT: Acts 5
Ps: Psalm 125
Pr: Proverbs 16:25

Today´s notable verse:

But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

Acts 5:39 (NIV)

These are wise words from Gamaliel! When our motivations are of our own origin, for our own purposes, then our efforts will ultimately fail. But if our motivation is the compulsion of and love for our Lord, in order to fulfill His purposes, then our efforts cannot fail. In such case, those who would try to hinder or resist those efforts are not working against us alone, but against God - and God fights such battles for us. He calls us first to be obedient and to stand firm in the faith; when we do so, He works all things for our good and for His glory.

The One Year Bible Blog's comments for today.

Stem Cell Treatment Eliminates Lupus

Filed in ScienceTags: Stem Cells

Isn't it amazing - coincidental, even - that every single instance of realized promise of stem cells have come from adult stem cells? Yet, this KGO-TV (San Jose) story finds it "surprising" that a Lupus-curing procedure comes from adult stem cells [emphasis added]:

We've all heard a lot about the promise of stem cells in medicine. Now researchers say they have taken a huge step forward, using a type of these cells to treat a devastating disease. Surprisingly, the cells are taken directly from the patient.

...

First, patients have blood removed to harvest the stem cells. Next, chemotherapy destroys the existing, broken immune system. Patients are then given stem cells to build a new immune system.

...

The treatment is now being tested in individuals with other diseases, like MS and diabetes. However, there are risks, including possible blood transfusions, infection, nausea, and an effect on fertility. So it should be weighed very carefully.

This was a small study of only 50 patients. Now the goal is to expand the research to more patients and other diseases.

If so many heads weren't buried in the embryonic sand, reports such as this one wouldn't be surprising at all.

Researchers Get OK, Reporter Gets Confused

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

So much mis-information, so little time...

Two teams of Boston scientists announced Tuesday that they will attempt to creating the world's first cloned human embryonic stem cells.

Technically speaking, stem cells, by definition, clone themselves. Stem cells are self-replicating.

Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Boston Children's Hospital researchers said they will try to develop a powerful new tool to explore the biology of and create disease-specific stem cell lines that could lead to the treatment of a wide range of now-incurable conditions afflicting tens of millions of people worldwide.

Note to reporter: stem-cell research - especially embryonic stem cell research - is not required to explore the biology of a "wide range of now-incurable conditions." (Though, given the poor grammatical structure of the lead-in sentence, I'm unsure whether she meant "biology of...a wide range of now-incurable conditions" or "biology of...stem cell lines.")

Researchers plan to initially focus on diabetes and then expand to include neurodegenerative diseases, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig?s Disease, and blood disorders.

Note, again, to reporter: adult stem cell treatments are already proving effective in these areas.

The method, called somatic cell nuclear transfer, involves removing the nucleus, which contains DNA, from an affected cell and replacing it with the nucleus from a donor cell, researchers explained. The cell is then forced to divide into multiple cells that are genetically identical to the healthy donor cell. The method has already proven successful in animal research. Patients with diabetes, blood disease and neurodegeneration will donate the cells. Embryos that were created through in vitro fertilization that have been deemed incapable of producing a pregnancy will be the source of the embryonic cells.

This has to be the most inaccurate explanation of SCNT I've yet seen. Just to clarify:

In somatic cell nuclear transfer the nucleus of a somatic cell (a cell other than a sperm or egg cell) is removed and the rest of the cell is discarded. In parallel, the nucleus of an egg cell is removed. The nucleus of of the somatic cell is then inserted into the denucleated egg cell. The egg, now containing the nucleus of a somatic cell, is stimulated in such a way that it begins to divide.

So, to correct:

  • Enucleated somatic cells are not necessarily "affected" cells; they are simply non-gametic cells from the person to be cloned.
  • The enucleated somatic cell is not placed into an enucleated somatic cell; it is placed into an enucleated egg.
  • The result is not simply another cell; it is a zygote genetically identical to the donor of the somatic cell.
  • The resultant zygote is not merely genetically identical to the donor somatic cell; it is genetically identical to the donor of that somatic cell.
  • The resultant zygote is not forced to divide into multiple cells; it is electrically induced to begin self-directed mitosis, from which the single-cell zygote proceeds into the various stages of embryonic development, and beyond.
  • IVF embryos have absolutely nothing to do with SCNT. Using IVF embryos is an alternate, and currently, only successful, means of harvesting embryonic stem cells.

Moving on:

Human embryonic stem cell research has long been at the center of controversy because in extracting healthy cells, days-old human embryos are destroyed. Embryonic cells are used because they are capable of developing into any cell or tissue type in the body. Opponents of the work claim that no potential medical benefit can justify the destruction of what they view as a human life.

"What they view" as human life? Embryologists universally agree that first, the blastocyst from which stem cells are harvested (and which is destroyed in the process) is an embryo, and second, that embryos, being self-directing in their growth and development, are living. Thus, human embryos are human life.

Harvard President Lawrence Summers is hopeful the research will lead to millions of people being able to live healthier lives.

"While we understand and respect the sincerely held beliefs of those who oppose this research, we are equally sincere in our belief that the life-and-death medical needs of countless suffering children and adults justifies moving forward with this research," Summers said in a release about the work.

Then again:

"Given that embryos are human beings, they have a right to self and a right to life. Exploiting their parts (ie, cells) or killing them for research is moral trespass that society should not allow. Even if the research might, and let’s be clear, might benefit others, this trespass is not justified."

--James Sherley, Ph.D. associate professor of biological engineering at MIT

OYB June 6

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: I Kings 1
NT: Acts 4
Ps: Psalm 124
Pr: Proverbs 16:24

Today´s notable verse:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:12 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - We read about the boldness of Peter and John in Acts chapter 4 today. Do you think we are called to be bold in our faith? Why? What are some ways that we should be bold in our faith? What are some ways in which you are bold in your faith today? What are some ways you want to become bolder in your faith?

Everywhere in Scripture where a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, boldness - and no other alternative - follows.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

II Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

We are called to be bold in - and through - our faith because the Holy Spirit is bold; truth is bold. Therefore, that same boldness is borne in us through the working of that same Spirit, to proclaim that same truth.

Parents See Success in Stem Cell Treatment

Filed in ScienceTags: Stem Cells

From the Cape Cod Times [emphasis added]:

Doctors at Nanshan Hospital in Shenzhen, China, gave Jonathan five injections of 10 million umbilical cord stem cells each into his spinal column to try to trigger a healing process in his damaged brain cells. He has a condition known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or HE, from a near-drowning in the family pool 11 years ago. As a result, he is unable to walk, talk or see anything beyond shadows.

Raylove, a West Barnstable acupuncturist, and Tonelli, a family therapist, heard about Nanshan Hospital's stem cell program through an Internet network of parents of children with brain damage. The center was founded by the Beike Biotechnology Co. and is located across the border from Hong Kong.

According to the Beike Web site, Nanshan doctors have focused on stem cell research since 1999 and have treated more than 500 patients, including those suffering from ALS, brain trauma and cerebral palsy.

Setting aside the issue of seeking treatments administered outside of regulatory control (which I don't advocate, but also certainly don't condemn, either - especially in cases like this one), here we see cord blood being used in humans, to treat conditions for which ESC research is touted as the Great Hope.

OYB June 5

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: II Samuel 23:24-39, II Samuel 24
NT: Acts 3
Ps: Psalm 123
Pr: Proverbs 16:21-23

Today´s notable verse:

But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."

II Samuel 24:24a (NIV)

To offer a sacrifice that costs nothing is to defeat the very purpose and meaning of sacrifice. Just as for David, so also for us.

The One Year Bible Blog's comments for today.

I Wonder What the Coalition Has to Say About Her Story?

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Media Bias, Stem Cells

From the State Register-Journal in Springfield, IL, comes the story of this courageous young woman who will be speaking in favor of Adult Stem Cell (ASC) research, and in opposition to Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) research:

Jacki said she wants to help other patients benefit from adult stem cells.

She said she is going to Washington to draw attention to the promise of treatments involving these cells, which already are used in the United States in bone marrow and umbilical cord-blood transplants.

She said she opposes the use of embryonic stem cells because embryos must be destroyed for those cells to be used.

"It is like an abortion," she said. "I don't think you need to kill a life to help somebody else whose already living. But adult stem-cell research I'm for, because it's not hurting anybody or affecting anybody. It's just using your own body to help yourself."

This girl's story is just amazing, and incredibly inspirational:

A former standout volleyball player, she spends at least an hour a day at her church, First Baptist in Waverly, where she practices walking with her braces.

When Jacki went through the surgery, she thought she would be walking without braces by now - an outcome that none of Lima's 80 patients has achieved since he began doing it in 2002. Now she would settle for more feeling in her trunk and legs.

The depression she said she sometimes feels doesn't discourage her for long, she said. But she has been disappointed lately by not being able to find a job in retail or at an office.

She said she has put her college plans on hold and has applied for jobs at many locations in Springfield and previously worked at an ice-cream shop in Waverly. She refuses to apply for federal disability payments.

"I'm motivated, and I do my best in everything I can, and I'm very independent," said Jacki, who drives and graduated fourth in her senior class of 21 at Waverly High School.

Of course, since her procedure involved adult, rather than embryonic, stem cells, the MSM will largely ignore it - and that is tragic, not just with respect to the stem cell issue, but also because of the character and determination of this young woman as she fights for her own betterment, and advocates for the benefit of others.

ESC Research Nearing Obsolescence?

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

The Missouri Roundtable blog reports that German scientists have acquired pluripotent stem cells from an adult mouse testis, the discovery of the presence of multi-lineage stem cells in amniotic fluid, and the development of a technique to acquire in large numbers blastomere-like stem cells (BLSCs), which have been demonstrated to be able to differentiate into most tissue types of the body, from peripheral blood.

If ESC researchers don't hurry up, their work will be rendered useless.