[extropy-chat] Stem cell breakthrough claims

Dirk Bruere dirk at neopax.com
Thu May 19 21:23:54 UTC 2005

Damien Broderick wrote:

> "Scientists Clone Stem Cells Genetically Matched to Patients"
> May 19, 2005; Washington, D.C. (AP and CNN) -- South Korean scientists 
> have created the world's first human embryonic stem cells that are 
> customized to injured or sick patients, a major step in the quest to 
> grow patients' own replacement tissue to treat diseases.  These  same 
> scientists last year became the first to clone a human embryo, 
> sparking international clamor. But those cloned stem cells -- the 
> building blocks that give rise to every tissue in the body -- were a 
> genetic match to a healthy woman, not a sick person. And it wasn't 
> easy: It took 242 donated human eggs to grow just one batch.
>         Now the Seoul scientists have cloned patient-specific stem 
> cells, important if doctors are to develop cell-based therapies that 
> won't be rejected by the body's immune system. The  technique worked 
> with males and females, as young as 2 and as old as 56 -- all 
> suffering  either spinal cord injuries, diabetes, or a genetic immune 
> disease, the researchers report in  Friday's edition of the journal 
> Science.  And the Korean lab found faster and safer ways  to cull stem 
> cells, using far fewer donated eggs -- about 20 per try.   They also 
> eliminated the use of mouse "feeder cells" that have been used to 
> nourish most human stem-cell lines, thus obviating concerns about 
> contamination.
>         But, any therapy is still years away from being tested in 
> people.  "Therapeutic cloning  has tremendous, tremendous healing 
> potential, but we have to open so many doors before human trials," 
> lead researcher Hwang Woo-suk of Seoul National University said in a  
> telephone interview. "Our work reveals the possibility that this 
> technology could be applied in the patient himself in the future."
>         Stem-cell specialists called the research remarkable.  "This 
> is a very important advance," said Dr. Janet Rowley of the University 
> of Chicago, a genetics specialist who helped co-author recent ethics 
> guidelines on stem-cell research from the Institute of Medicine. "It's 
> surprising to me the amount of progress they've made in basically a 
> year's time."  "This paper will be of major impact," said stem-cell 
> researcher Dr. Rudolph Jaenisch of the Whitehead Institute for 
> Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass. "The argument that it will not 
> work in humans will  not be tenable after this."
>         The work marks "a gigantic advance" for another reason, said 
> neuroscientist Fred Gage of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies 
> in San Diego. By cloning stem cells from sick patients, scientists can 
> watch, in a test tube, the very earliest origins of diseases like 
> Alzheimer's, insight that could point to other ways to prevent and 
> treat illness, explained Gage, who plans to do some of that work. The 
> Korean research "will be a tremendous boon to the investigation of the 
> nature and biology of  human disease," he said.
>         It's also sure to revive international controversy over 
> whether to ban all forms of human cloning, as the Bush administration 
> desires -- or to allow cloning for medical research, so-called 
> therapeutic cloning that South Korea has committed by law to pursue.  
> Culling stem cells destroys the days-old embryo harboring them, 
> regardless of whether that embryo was cloned or left over in a 
> fertility clinic. Because opponents argue that is the same as 
> destroying life, President Bush has banned Federally-funded research 
> on all but a handful of old embryonic stem-cell lines and the South 
> Korean work spotlights the frustration many U.S. scientists felt at 
> being left behind.  "It's just going to highlight the tragedy of our 
> current situation in America where there are technologies that are 
> promising that are not being pursued by talented American scientists 
> because of ideologic constraints," Rowley said.
>         The Seoul researchers collected eggs donated by 18 unpaid 
> volunteers and removed the gene-containing nucleus from them. They 
> inserted into those eggs DNA from skin cells of 11 people who had 
> spinal cord injuries, Type-1 Diabetes, or a congenital immune 
> disease.  Chemicals jump-started cellular division, and 31 blastocysts 
> -- early-stage embryos -- successfully grew. From those, the 
> scientists were able to harvest 11 colonies, or "lines," of stem 
> cells, each one a genetic match to the patient who had donated a skin 
> snippet.  The scientists were careful to explain to the research 
> participants that getting medicine made from their stem cells is a 
> long shot. They don't yet know how to control which types of tissues 
> -- brain cells, bones, muscles, etc. -- the stem cells form, something 
> the Korean lab is studying next.  "I didn't think they would be at 
> this stage for decades, let alone within one year," said Dr. Gerald 
> Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, who acted as an adviser to 
> the Korean Lab in analyzing its data for U.S. publication. "All of us 
> in the biomedical communities owe our colleagues in Korea a tremendous 
> debt of gratitude."
>         The work raises ethical concerns, cautioned Stanford 
> University bioethicists David Magnus and Mildred Cho. Scientists must 
> ensure that women understand they get no benefit and can be put at 
> some risk when they agree to donate eggs for medical research -- and 
> that patients who volunteer also understand that it's unlikely they'll 
> benefit from any stem cells they help to clone because so many years 
> of research are yet required, they wrote.
And the US leads the field in the publication of papers on ethics.


The Consensus:-
The political party for the new millenium

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