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.