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Stem cell breakthrough
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Here's a medical breakthrough:
A woman has become the first patient in the world to receive an organ created in a laboratory, in a pioneering operation that could change transplant surgery, doctors said yesterday.

Claudia Castillo's body part was grown using her own stem cells harvested from bone marrow.

Professor Anthony Hollander, part of the team behind the breakthrough, described it as an example of "stem cell science becoming stem cell medicine".
As an aside, obviously the stem cells used were adult stem cells. That seems to be the area in stem cell research where all the progress is being made.

Advantage?
Using Ms Castillo's stem cells to create a new airway for her means there are none of the tissue-rejection problems that are a major issue for transplant surgery and which usually mean recipients have to take powerful drugs for the rest of their lives.

Researchers from the UK, Italy and Spain worked together in the extraordinarily complex procedure to grow tissue from the 30-year-old mother of two to fashion a new bronchus – a branch of the windpipe – and carry out the transplant operation.
While this is certainly extraordinary and complex, it still isn't as complex as trying to grow a whole organ, such as a pancreas or the like. Still, it's a marvelous step forward.

The "how was it done" part of it:
A section of windpipe was taken from a female donor who had died and the trachea was stripped of its cells, leaving only connective tissue. Stem cells from Ms Castillo's bone marrow were then grown in the laboratory. Next, the donor trachea had to be "seeded" with two different kinds of cells – those made in the laboratory and those derived from tissue taken from Ms Castillo's nose and healthy airways.

The trachea graft was placed into a rotating "bioreactor" and the machine allowed the cells to migrate to the correct locations, where they began to grow naturally.

Finally the trachea, now covered in cartilage and lined with cells all bearing the patient's own genetic hallmark, was cut to shape and slotted into place. Without the pioneering operation, the lung would have had to be removed.
One of the members of the team thinks that in 20 years time this will be a very common operation. Pretty cool stuff.
 
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And once again, a stem cell breakthough not from embryonic stem cells.
 
Written By: Veeshir
URL: http://
Adult stem cell research has progressed to the point where the therapeutic applications are virtually unlimited. Adult stem cells have been coaxed by reserachers into doing nearly everything that was ever dreamed of for embryonic stem cells with the advantage that when they the are adult stem cells of the patient the body won’t reject them.

So the actual medical debate is over and the need to destroy human embryos for research has been vitiated.

But you won’t hear much about that, because there’s that other urgent need, the debasement and devaluation of human life, that must be pusued, and medical research on human embryos remains essential to that.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
This is a stupid question, but it’s the first thing that occurs to me whenever someone points out that the only progress that’s been made is with adult stem cells:

Might not that be the case because embryonic stem cell research has nowhere near the same amount of financial and social support as adult stem cell research?

I don’t have a dog in this hunt, and I’m not an advocate of embryonic stem cell reseach. The idea makes me a bit uneasy, but that uneasiness is not based on any actual knowledge.
 
Written By: Ronnie Gipper
URL: http://socalconservative.blogspot.com
Could be Ronnie Gipper, but....

Aren’t there plenty of breakthroughs on stuff without gov’t help? If there is money to be made, someone will do it. If you need gov’t money, there’s a good chance there will be not enough or no profit to be made.

And the gov’t does give money to that, Bush just restricted it to certain lines. There’s nothing stopping anybody from using any embryonic stem cells they can find, they just can’t get gov’t money to do it if it’s not those lines.

I’m against creating life to experiment on it. That’s a slippery slope that I don’t want to be on and, as we’ve seen, there are breakthroughs every day using stem cells that don’t involve a dead baby.
(Obligatory, "I don’t believe this because of religion" statement in parentheses)
 
Written By: Veeshir
URL: http://
Might not that be the case because embryonic stem cell research has nowhere near the same amount of financial and social support as adult stem cell research?
I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s the other way around, and that embryonic stem cell research was more heavily funded, and celebrated, but that adult stem cell research was where the results were coming from. So, in fact, the money might now have followed the results. (Again, I don’t know for sure, but I’m happy to be corrected if I’m wrong about that.) But for the better part of the past several years you have either heard of "stem cells" or "embryonic stem cells" and there’s been a virtual embargo in MSM on the term "adult stem cells," precisely because they have been offered as a better alternative to embryonic stem cells. In fact if you go to today’s NY Times story on this breakthrough, which has already been removed from the front page of the web edition, it doesn’t use "adult stem cells."

It also tries to muddle the question of the difference, and refers to Bush administration restrictions on "stem cell" research, not specifying that the restrictions are on embryonic stem cell research. A reader unfamiliar with the distinctions could easily come away believing that Bush had restricted the type of research that led to this breakthrough.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
Notice: no aborted material. And the body part made was a simple one.

Except for this small step, can anyone show me where stem cells from embryos or aborted fetuses have been shown to do anything? The only advances - the few that have been made, even in countries where the governments are doling out billions for stem cell research - are tiny and all involve adult stem cells.

Unfortunately, after January 20 we will all have to pay for the harvesting of aborted fetus cells, because The Clown™ wants to make us all pay for his leftwing diarrhea.
 
Written By: James Marsden
URL: http://
"That seems to be the area in stem cell research where all the progress is being made."
It is. I’m not aware of any progress being made with embryonic research, despite the efforts. Fortunately the progressives, who embrace science unlike we Luddites, will understand this and direct federal dollars appropriately.

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Embryonic stem cells are much more abundant. This will not change soon. This example may have been accomplished utilizing adult stem cells, but they are just not as abundant as needed for research and developing solutions, IMO. I do not believe that in the future the source will matter. In the future, stem cells from the patient will be utilized to create whatever organ or tissue is required. However, the quickness to which these solutions are made available to the public does depend on whether embryonic stem cells can be utilized for research.

Progress is being made with embryonic cells; examples abound. There have been advances; they do not all involve adult stem cells.
 
Written By: Is
URL: http://
Odd, I’ve never heard of a shortage of adult stem cells, especially given that every human being has them. Are human embryos in greater supply than human beings?

Research on adult stem cells is producing more and more frequent cures and treatments. There was a huge breakthrough recently where they have been made to do virtually all the things that were once said to be the sole potential of embryonic stem cells. To my knowledge, embryonic stem cells have produced zero treatments. This has to do with how well each reacts to being coaxed to take on specific roles — adult stem cells, very well; embryonic stem cells, not well at all.

But that’s just roughly the state of the research. The ethical question of destroying human life — which is what human embryos are — for medical research is evil. Creating human life for the purpose of experimenting on it is more evil still. And it’s not a matter of how anxious the public is to drink from the scientific cannibal pot.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
Progress is being made with embryonic cells; examples abound.

Links to some examples please. Make sure you read the articles carefully as they often seem to try to confuse the reader as to which stem cells are being used.

The ethical question of destroying human life — which is what human embryos are — for medical research is evil. Creating human life for the purpose of experimenting on it is more evil still.

Exactly my point, and no, I don’t believe in a god but I still believe in evil.
 
Written By: Veeshir
URL: http://
The ethical question of destroying human life — which is what human embryos are — for medical research is evil.
Wow, that’s a bad sentence. It makes it sound like the "ethical question" "is evil."

The ethical question is just an ethical question.

Destroying human life is what’s evil.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
Research is such that embryonic stem cells will not be required at all any more. I think that to persist in using them when better sources are available is ideology over common sense.

With new developments the entire ethical question becomes moot.

Eg. some articles:

Skin transformed into stem cells

Stem Cell Breakthrough Is Like ’Turning Lead Into Gold’

Scientists Produce Embryonic Stem Cells from Skin

Stem cells created without embryos





 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Aren’t there plenty of breakthroughs on stuff without gov’t help? If there is money to be made, someone will do it. If you need gov’t money, there’s a good chance there will be not enough or no profit to be made.

You have to distinguish between blue sky research and research targeted for a specific application. At the early stages of research into a topic, academic institutions lay the groundwork for targeted applications. A lot of this early research funding comes from the government to academic researchers: of the roughly $100 billion spent per year, somewhere around a third (perhaps a little more) comes from the federal govt.

The reason why its helpful under the current model for the govt to lend a hand on this stuff becomes clear when you realize that development of a targeted application like a new drug can cost a private company more than a $billion and 10-20 years to get it to market, and that’s after basic research is done.

A generic example would be a University figuring out what a specific enzyme does via a federal grant, and a private company utilizing that basis to invest in the development of drug that’s a synthetic molecule that mimics the enzyme’s structure.

In a less regulated market with less public safety concern, yes, the private model would always win out. That’s not automatically the case here.
 
Written By: Bill from INDC
URL: http://
Creating human life for the purpose of experimenting on it is more evil still.

This may not change your opinion, but in vitro fertilization creates lots of embryos that are destroyed during the process itself, when they are initially thawed or otherwise. No sarcasm: do you find the concept of in vitro fertilzation evil?

Ironically, just as "snowflake babies" (leftover embryos planted in the womb of an unrelated mother and carried to term) are touted as an ethical triumph by pro-life advocates, there is some percentage of these embryos that will die just to attempt the process. This raises the question of whether THAT destruction of life to fulfill this medical process is unethical.

And given that surplus embryos are routinely destroyed, and necessarily have to be made in certain surplus quantity in the in vitro fertilization process; is it specifically unacceptable to use them for research vs. routine disposal that occurs as a consequence of the process that tries to create life for couples using the procedure? Honest questions, I don’t have solidified, strong feeling on the matter.

 
Written By: Bill from INDC
URL: http://
That’s a good point about using the embryos that would be destroyed anyway.

I’ll give you a corollary from when I used to work at a Kentucky Fried Chicken. We weren’t allowed to take home the left-over chicken at the end of the night, we had to throw it away. Why? Because how long do you think it would take some enterprising scumbag to make extra chicken in order to have enough to take home?

It’s a slippery slope argument with me. Once you cheapen life by creating it just to experiment on it, you are on the way to some even more evil stuff.

Besides, as I said, all of the advances I’ve noticed have not come from embryonic stem cells, I asked our drive-by guy, Is, for some examples of embryonic stem cell advances, perhaps you could provide some? After all, the gov’t is funding research as we speak, just on the approved lines. So if they were so much better, shouldn’t they have produced results?
 
Written By: Veeshir
URL: http://
Billfrom INDC said:

"And given that surplus embryos are routinely destroyed, and necessarily have to be made in certain surplus quantity in the in vitro fertilization process; is it specifically unacceptable to use them for research vs. routine disposal that occurs as a consequence of the process that tries to create life for couples using the procedure? Honest questions, I don’t have solidified, strong feeling on the matter."

They’re aren’t necessarily destroyed on purpose. My wife had 15 eggs harvested when we did InVitro. 12 were successfully fertilized. 6 made it past the first day. 4 made it past the second. On the third day, they inserted 4. Two weeks later, we found out she was pregnant with twins. Now, if more had made it, they wouldn’t have been destroyed but frozen for us in case we needed to try again. Or donated to another couple.

Granted some people don’t freeze or donate. But using the In Vitro fertilization example is problematic. How far do you want to take the logic?

What if a woman has miscarried multiple times and the chances of carrying to term are minimal? Is that destroying the embryoe?

Embryonic Stem Cells are destroyed with no hope of becoming a child. I think that is a qualifying difference since the creation of a life is the aim of In Vitro. This doesn’t end the argument but equating the two doesn’t make any good points, in my opinion.
 
Written By: Jim Sullivan
URL: http://criticalbookworm.blogspot.com/
No sarcasm: do you find the concept of in vitro fertilzation evil?
Depending on the circumstances, more in the range from morally unacceptable to gravely immoral.

The secondary disposal or use for experimentation of unwanted embryos is evil.

In any sense that in vitro fertilization itself becomes experimentation with human life that results in intentional killing it becomes a party to evil and therefore evil itself.

Individual human life begins at fertilization, which is the formation of the unique individual genetic code of a person and includes the inherent elements of intelligence and personality, and which code immediately begins the process of dynamic unfolding, which proceeds to and beyond birth.

Fertilization/conception is the bright line and the only bright line in nature that defines the beginning of every individual human life.

Pretending that there is some sort of ethical right to create these individual lives in order to destroy them will hopefully be seen, upon the actual development of a real ethical consensus that matches the facts, as barbaric and grotesque.

The counter-ethics for this sort of thing were developed in the eugenics movement and now there’s a whole "bioethics" movement based on similar principles, which both denies human exceptionalism and posits all sorts of artificial lines as to when human life is eligible for "ethical" protection.

There is in fact only one real line, which serves as the beginning of each of our unique individual lives. No matter how inconvenient.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
Embryonic Stem Cells are destroyed with no hope of becoming a child. I think that is a qualifying difference since the creation of a life is the aim of In Vitro. This doesn’t end the argument but equating the two doesn’t make any good points, in my opinion.

I wouldn’t totally equate them, but I actually think comparing makes a great point, when examining the ethical possibilities.

I did mention in my comment that some embryos are destroyed via in vitro just by the attempt to thaw and implant. Thus, the process you and your wife went through necessarily destroyed life (embryos that failed) in an attempt to create life, regardless of the fate of extras left over.

So you take it to a perfectly reasonable conclusion, and say that you did it with the intent of creating life, which is acceptable. Problematically, others can argue that the attempt to cure diseases saves lives, and thus the intent is similar.

If you add in the fact that a large number extra embryos are already created via in vitro and have no hope of being taken to term, than one isn’t expressly creating them to be experimented on. But Veeshir makes a good point that allowing experimentation could/would spur folks to make extras expressly for that purpose (markets being markets). Personally, I suspect that there would be a sufficient excess of embryos via in vitro and so few researchers that this wouldn’t become a problem, but i don’t have specific info to back this hunch.

This is why I find that there are muddy distinctions, and we have to draw a line somewhere, that is arbitrary, to some degree.
 
Written By: Bill from INDC
URL: http://
Martin - interesting and clearly stated answer. And I am personally conflicted on the issue.

But regarding your judgment on in vitro by extension: if certain women have a genetic disposition to miscarry, and they are informed of it, would it be unethical for them to make the attempt several times and fail the natural way?

I think a lot of these arguments will be diminished in the coming years - artificial wombs could reduce the demand for abortion, in vitro could increase efficiency to match the rate of successful pregnancies the old-fashioned way w/o wasting embryos, one’s own stem cells can already be coaxed into an embryonic state ... but I find the distinctions less clear, while still recognizing the value to society of an outsized respect for human life.

The more I study medicine and biotech, the more muddy issues I come across, from extended care to assisted suicide to the fate of embryos. The topic lends itself to life and death stakes, after all.
 
Written By: Bill from INDC
URL: http://

 
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