Keeping in step with this week's flood of awesome stem cell news, a development on the embryonic front: California surgeons have implanted lab-grown retinal cells into the eyes of two patients losing their vision to macular degeneration, Technology Review reports.
The retinal cells were grown from embryonic stem cells--those controversial (because of their source) biological building blocks with the ability to turn into any human tissue. This latest effort is among the first in the world to use embryonic stem cells as treatment. Last year another biotech company called Geron began a small trial using stem cells to treat spinal cord damage (the jury is still out on that one).
The retinal treatment is being carried out at the University of California but the science comes from Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology, which recently received approval from the FDA to test a treatment aimed at replacing the retinal pigment epithelial cells destroyed by macular degeneration. That destruction eventually leads to blindness as photoreceptors die off.
To do this, Advanced Cell grows brand new retinal cells in the lab from embryonic stem cells and then implants them directly into the retina, where researchers hope they will take root and stop the degeneration process. If it works, Advanced Cell could be onto something big. Macular degeneration affects some 10 million people in the U.S. alone and is a prevalent cause of blindness in older people.
"...controversial (because of their source)". You mean umbilical cord blood? Oh, no, that's right, no one talks about that because it's much more fun to pick the one uncomfortable aspect of stem cells and use that as a reason to try and impose generalized bans on a likely life-saving technology. This way, we all get a political standpoint to argue about! Yay, arguing!
-IMP ;) :)
it's simple :either allow abortion AND embryonic stem cell research, or don't allow baby murder, and get stem cells from another source. there are, in fact, plenty of other sources.
Ice Metal Punk to truly understand stem cells please reference the christopher reeve southpark episode... Season 7 Episode 2
Free education for the obviously extremely clueless posters above:
1. Don't get your science information from South Park.
2. Organ transplant is allowed on adult humans once they are pronounced brain dead
3. A 100 cell organism used in stem cell research has no brain and therefore meets the definition of being brain dead if you want to treat it by normal human standards.
4. It is not "murdering a baby" to kill a 100 cell organism that could never develop into a baby because it is in a petri dish and not a woman's uterus. Also, you cannot murder something that is legally brain dead.
5. Murder is a legal term anyway and embryonic stem cell research (and abortion for that matter) is perfectly legal.
6. Not all stem cells are the same.
7. There is only one source for embryonic stem cells (guess where), and embryonic stem cells have different properties than adult ones.
8. Adult stem cells can be used for some things, but not others. Recent research suggests that induced pluripotent stem cells have many abnormalities and are not the same as embryonic equivalents.
9. Umbilical cord cells will not help anyone except those born a few years ago whose parents could afford to have it saved. That's probably less than .001% of the population so far.
10. If you really believed that embryonic stem cell research was murder then you would be pushing for the death penalty for anyone who does it. No politician, no matter how far right-wing, or extremist christian, is calling for this.
11. This research will happen no matter what and it is absolutely impossible to stop it. It is happening all over the world. If you outlawed it then it would still be done in secret. IOWs your attempts to stop it are as futile as they are misinformed.
12. Therefore you are wasting your time and the time of others by even attempting to discuss it. Just go sulk in your room and pray silently to baby Jebus, because nobody else wants to hear it.
OK, aarontco, you do realize the embryonic stem cells are be used in mostly clinical trials right now, and not helping anyone either? It is much more cost effective to start research on umbilical cord stem cells since hospitals just throw them away. Also, talking about this is not a waste a time, it is an ethical issue, if you do not agree then do not insult the morals of others.
They can get stem cells out of one's blood already. They don't need to fool with other sources.
Yes, I would agree, with TigerHound you seem to be spewing critism with no goal to progressing this conversation, please stop. although a counter argument to yours is that while we are not killing humans, we are killing potential humans, ask children born rape if they would like to have been given the choice to live or not, regardless of the time an embryonic being is still a potential human with the unalienable rights.
on this topic: I agree with IMC on using umbilical cord material because its a waste product free, easy to get, and probably easier to keep than a petri dish grown human. Although this article does seem to imply these cells may have been taken from fetal humans, raising the controversy. AND now for my opinion, if these trials are from "clean" sources than excellent, i'm hopefully this study will show advances, if not, I am firmly against it being the pro-lifer I am.
@ IMC out curiosity, are there any downsides to this that you know of, or is its only barrier political ignorance?
The moral argument against stem cell research IS a waste of time. Ideas driven by religion have a place, it's called church or in your own mind. Saying that 100 cells worth of matter constitutes a human and has a "soul" inside it when there is ZERO proof, is detrimental to science.
TigerHound, you say that if we dont agree with you, to not insult your morals, what makes you think you're exempt from having your morals insulted? Keep your quack ideas out of science.
I do not support abortion or embryo destruction.
But if you read about Advanced Cell Technology. You will find they have a patented process, that does not destroy, or harm
any embryos. They extract 1 cell from the embryo. They then grow more stem cells with their process. Leaving a viable healthy embryo. Embryonic stem cells are the gold standard of stem cell research. Now it can be done without harming any embryos
@intrepidDesign the point Tigerhound made was not to dictate morals but to be respectful of morals of others, a reasonable request. and please don't tell me ethics are useless, its what holds society together. and as for souls, that's not really the point while I believe in the immortal soul, and while you don't, we both probably agree that it is not right to deny a potential human the right to live, it is not right to conceive a human in an environment where his death is planned. first degree murder.
"Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many."
On another note, I really like the alternatives showing up on this thread, its really quite educational for me. Thank you IMC and bioinvestor for shedding light on this subject. It will allow me to not only combat full embryo harvesting but gives me alternatives to use in my arguments.
With your logic I could justify killing babies because of the potential of them becoming the next Hitller, Stalin, Mao, ect., ect. What it can become isn't valid if you aren't looking to trun something in to something you want. Now the question is what do you want? As many people to be born as can be? I don't that you do. If I'm right then your argoument is invalid. If you do what so many people born then you are fighting nature itself and would be a crazy person.
Ok why are they doing an ebryonic stem cell treatment? Because unless the stem cells are from the personS own body there will be a rejection right? I dont support ebryonic stem cell treatment because adult stem cells are the future. Listen if you take stem cells from someones own body and grow them an organ their body wont reject it. Now if you grow an organ from embryonic stem cells and put it in someones body they will reject it cause their body doesn't recognize the DNA (cause its not their own).
Adult stem cells are the future it just doesn't make any sense to invest money and research into embryonic stem cells.
ADULT STEM CELL TECHNOLOGY IS THE FUTURE!!!!!
Am I right or wrong aren't adult stem cells the future? I mean if you grow a liver from embryonic stem cells (which are not from the patients own body) and transplant that into the patients body wouldn't they have to take antirejection drugs?
But if you grow a liver from adult stem cells taken from the person's own body they wont have a rejection issue right? Cause that trachea that was grown by the swiss was grown from the patients own adult stem cells and so far he is having no rejectin issues cause his body reognized the DNA as its own.
@kokofan50 read the quote: "My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many." my point was that we do not have the right to decide when an Innocent is killed, whether or not if it is a human at the time or not it eventually will be and should be legally treated as such. As for what they will be, that's exactly why we can't kill them. they are potential people. furthermore, i'm not arguing overpopulation, only the saving of existing potential humans. I have a hunch that overpopulation is more of a "fantasy" problem considering the average american eats three to four times as much as they need to be healthy our issue seems not to be population but transport of food and/or greed.
First I'd like to say that I believe abortion shouldn't be considered lightly and it shouldn't be viewed as a method of contraception.
Now that this is out, I want to reply to all those that say that embryonic stem cell should be ban because it's killing potential humans.
With your perfect logic...
If you are a guy, every single time you ejaculate you kill potential humans. Since you so much care about "potential", you should never use any condom since it prevents birth and this too is killing "potential" humans.
If you are a girl, every single time you have your ovulation and dont procreate, you are killing a "potential" human. Since you so much care about "potential", you should never use any contraceptive pills either since it prevents birth and this too is killing "potential" humans.
Oh yes, every single time your parents didn't do these things, they murdered your "potential" brother or sister. They should all go to prison and stay there for life. You can't kill them for their atrocities because you would kill "potential" humans by removing "potential" occasions.
Now I hope you realise that your "potential" logic is seriously flawed.
And if you are so much against abortion, tell me, how would you feel every single time you look at "your" child when it make you re-live the rape you've been thru or your girlfriend have been thru? Really, you are going to judge those who can't cope with it and wouldn't be able to love their "own" "forced upon them" child?
I dont "like" abortion, but it's a necessity. You shouldn't rely on it, but sometimes you have to use it in certain situations. If you can't see it, then it's because it never happened to you.
I'm looking forward to the day when humans shed the slop that is religion and superstition for science. So that I don't to read these stupid comments anymore on popsci.
I agree with you nearly completely, except in that semen are potential people, I was only using that point to avoid saying that an embryo is a human, as that matter is very subjective. I should have referred to them as developing people in retrospect. Just trying to avoid the "when is a person a person" argument. as far as your rape argument, I completely agree that no woman should have to be reminded of a traumatic experience when she sees her child. BUT I also believe that it would be worse to kill the child, rather, give it up for adoption. It is not right to decide when a human is a human or else we give the risk that the signs of humanity get pushed further and further back, until we have amoral leaders like Obama vote for live birth abortions.
DARN IT I FORGET TO SIGN MY POST
You know, now that I think about it, wouldn't the real holy grail of stem cell research be to figure out how to clone embryonic stem cells? Then you could get as many of them as you wanted without having to harvest them from an embryo anymore. Maybe the scientists who are researching cloning should quit trying to clone whole organisms and work on cloning stem cells, instead. The payout in terms of scientific benefit to humanity is probably much higher.
Advanced cell technology has developed a way to utilize embryonic cells without harm to the fetus. ACT's Blastomere Technology
ACT’s proprietary, patented single-blastomere technology enables the derivation of hESCs from human blastomeres using a single-cell biopsy technique similar to Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). The biopsy procedure does not destroy or harm the embryo, nor does it interfere with the embryo’s developmental potential. PGD is often used in in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics to assess the genetic health of pre-implantation embryos. The cell lines produced using this technique appear to be identical to the hESC lines derived from later-stage embryos, derived using techniques that destroy the embryo’s developmental potential.
I literally laughed out loud when you said, "Don't get your science information from South Park." Quite right. Don't get your science information from Lord Of The Rings either.
I am astounded to see people referencing pop-culture to shore up their arguments. Personal philosophies (whether its 14 year old philosopher or 15 year old philospher), personal morals, or religious beliefs are your own subjective opinion. You are entitled to have it - then again, so am I.
As individuals, if you choose not to participate in, or benefit from the advances of science, that is your business. As you know of course, there are religions that choose exactly that path. Ask any Jehovah's Witness about blood transfusions. Make your choice - you are free to do so. I will not try to sway you with my own personal moral beliefs or philisophical arguments.
However, we are also free to make our own choice, whether you disagree with it or not, and regardless of the platform you choose to try and sway me from making my choice. This is meant to be a scientific forum, not a moral one, not a religious one, and not a philisophical one.
I only refer to semen to demonstrate a point by pushing it to the extreme. My point was that "potential" wasn't a good reference. When a human becomes a human is still up to debate, but the best definition I've read so far was when the brain isn't "brain dead" anymore.
If you allow me, I would put aside the "human" part of the discussion and focus on something less emotional. I think "when an AI would be considered alive" as maybe the best reference in this case. You can put a lot of circuitry in place and still not consider the AI "alive". If you apply this logic to human, we could surely find a compromise point where we can all agree as long as we don't base our opinions on emotions.
As for your answer to abortion, I agree it would be preferable to give the child to adoption. But, I still disagree on the idea to refuse someone the right to abortion. You know, the condom or the pill aren't 100% secure, accidents happen. By using those methods, you are already making the decision of not having a baby. If you allow people this right then you must allow them to also "rectify" the situation. I'm not saying people should use abortion as contraception or that abortion should be allowed far into pregnancy, but that it should be allowed to a certain point. And what happen when the safety of the mother is in danger because of the baby. Would you call it murder to "kill" an unborn 8 month baby to save the mother? I would argue that by calling it murder, you could also call murder saving the child and killing the mother. Personally, if I would have to chose between the mother and the child, I would take the mother every single time even considering all the "potential" of the unborn baby. That would be our choice, no one should take that decision for us.
A (relativly)small number of cells even with a new arangment of DNA doesn't make a person. You said " an embryonic being is still a potential human" by saying that you said it might be a human but you don't know or it isn't a human and can become one. If it's the fromer then you either don't know what a human is or you don't know what an embryo is. You showed that you know what both are so it most be the later one you mean. All of that means you said that embryos aren't people.You gave me an argoument that you didn't agree with in an ealier argoument.
The problem of over population is that we need so much land and water to grow our food that we destroy that ecosystem we in part need to grow our food.
I just want to highlight how religious people start with the bait assertion that religion is "baby murder" and then play the switcharoo and cry crocodile tears that those people they just called murderers should not "insult the morals of others". Somebody who you probably heard of said, "How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?"
I will also note that, in all the comments so far, only about half of my points were even addressed. The key point is that a 100-cell organism has no brain, and feels no pain, and therefore can be treated exactly like any other human organ donor. IOWs, no brain, no pain, no problem. I know it probably sounds like something your minister told you.
Now I am not sure that this crowd will stumble on this subtlety all by themselves, but someone with a background in bioethics or medicine might legitimately object that adult human donors have to *consent* to be organ donors. However, those who actually work in a medical field will also know that "implied consent" is used all the time when an individual is incapable of making decisions for himself or herself. Furthermore, we are arguably obtaining consent through agency. That is the individuals who donated the gametes already gave consent for them to be used.
Some people have already made some good points on a few topics, including the process used by ACT, however, the process is not without its own problems. In particular I believe that they end up using animal cells in which the nuclei is replaced with human genetic material, and thus are effectively creating "human-animal hybrids". You might recall that religious people wanted to ban these too.
A lot of the other dreck is too uninformed to even waste time on. No, adult stem cells are not the future. This was point 8. Apparently nobody knows what induced pluripotent stem cells are. They were the great hope of adult stem cell research. However, it turns out that they do not really reprogram as thought. We have always been able to harvest our own stem cells from sources like bone marrow, if you want to go through that process of taking a power drill and extracting them from your leg bones. However that source, and other human sources has not proved to be very versatile. As I noted, there is not just one kind of "stem cell". So people keep saying, you can get them from this or that. When you get them from different places they potentially have different and limited properties. the exact kind of cell matters.
In any event embryonic stem cells have to be studied, they will be studied, and nothing you say, do, write about, cry about, pray about, etc will change it. Therefore kindly STFU. Thanks in advance.
@johnb19 I really do see your point, and your child kills mother by birth scenario is really a tough one. That is probably the only instance i'd accept abortion as an option. Otherwise, well, yah sex makes babies, no real way to get around that one 100% of the time. Although one of my criticisms of our time is our lack of self leadership and responsibilities. This has been a problem for all humanity for its existence, and its a very real test for people, but its a necessary one. Ideally i'll live to see abortion outlawed or at least defunded, but until we accept our troubles as they are and stop running we probably won't be much more responsible.
@kokofan50 I made a mistake by saying potential humans, I should have said developing humans. and I know the theory of overpopulation but I really do doubt its ever going to be an issue. could be wrong, but its been predicated to be a rising issue since the 1860's and i haven't seen anything happen.
From a morally absolute standpoint, there is no such thing as a "potential" human. You either are or you aren't. The only logical point to assign "living" status to a life form prior to birth but not prior to conception is conception itself.
However, we don't live in a world of absolutes. Human beings are morally relativistic. We arbitrarily assign value to virtually everything based not upon any logical moral principle, but for inane reasons such as tradition, "gut" feelings, etc.
To use the "potential human" as an example. I could say that a baby once born has more value than a baby soon to be born because the latter case has only the potential to become that which the prior has already achieved. But then how do I assign relative values to a baby at 3 months after conception vs. one at 6 months or 9 months?
Certainly we could assign values based on the statistical probability of an embryo/fetus at various stages of growth actually reaching birth. At which point it becomes easy to arbitrarily assign a cut-off point, after which we don't allow abortions. And this is exactly the way our abortion laws work currently.
I'm not advocating one way or the other. Personally, I'm pro-choice, yet I recognize that by moral absolutes (not Biblical, but logical), a life is a life regardless of its current "potential".
By absolutes I wouldn't say that a 90 year old man has any more or less to live for than a 10 year old boy. Yet practically speaking and from a morally relativistic point of view, I also recognize that as immoral as it may seem, the reality is that the 10 year old most certainly does have more to live for!
What I'm saying is that we make these judgments every day and place arbitrary values on most matters of morality. We are practical beings and we live primarily by the rules of moral relativism, not by moral absolutes which, while noble, are impractical in the real world for the simple fact that human beings don't live by absolutes, but by degrees.
Thus this argument has no logical conclusion or reconciliation. The fact is that the pro-life lobby is logically and morally correct (which I don't say lightly because, in my experience, logic and Christian morality tend to agree with one another rarely and only coincidentally at that, as is the case in this instance!). However, the pro-choice lobby is also correct, but from a morally relativistic standpoint which is a much more slippery slope.
As relativism is completely subjective, your idea of what is morally correct may be completely opposite of my what I consider morally correct. This makes for a poor basis for morality (once again why I find myself in disagreement with faith-based morality more often than not!).
In my personal opinion, we should strive for moral absolutes and always recognize that we are making a practical compromise when we choose to play loosely with the principles of moral absolutes.
So I would say that although it is morally indefensible to assign arbitrary values to a life between the time of conception and birth in order to justify an abortion, practically speaking there are good reasons to make that justification in certain cases - the promise of embryonic stem cell research being one of those cases. Again, just my opinion.
I agree with you nearly completely. I'm very happy someone brought up moral relativism and moral absolutes. While it's obvious moral absolutes are very clean and have a certain "stonewall" defense to them, very few people say that moral absolutes can be used ultimatum, they are usually a moral truth with situational relativism. I disagree with christian morals being illogical. This is mostly because under these ideals Catholism built western moralality and many other aspects of civilization. The logic is proved in its practice, although I would be thrilled to hear the illogics you have discovered(no sarcasm here). One of my pet peeves is how many times people blame Catholism for impeding science and other key building blocks for western civilization. We pretty much developed all western principles and have only three mistakes, two of which are mostly lies.(Galileo was not killed but placed under house arrest for a year, evolution was only banned to be taught as truth, and was still taught as theory universally.) Also monks made the first of the following: modern blast forges, modern sustainable agriculture, preserved pagan and christian works alike to the modern times, invented philosophy and natural philosophy(science!), made the first hospitals and charity works, and dispelled astrology/prophetic rituals. But seriously that aside I'd really like to hear what illogics you have found. Also I agree that my "potential" argument was flawed, I was trying to use it to get around the when a persons a person question. I'll refine it to "developing" human.
Abortion will not be outlawed in the US, EVER. Period. Quite to the contrary, we are on the verge of having technologies that will make abortion an almost effortless, do-at-home procedure. We have long had pills that you could order over the internet. I predict that we will have an iPhone application that uses focused ultrasound to terminate an early pregnancy, often at the point where it is completely undeveloped and only the size of a grain of rice.
It doesn't help anyone's argument to say that an early term fetus is a "developing" human. A planted acorn is a developing oak tree but digging it up is still not the same as chopping down an oak tree. A stack of lumber might be the start of a house, but you can't live in it, and you can't sell it for the same that you sell a finished house. Development makes all the difference. A five-year-old kid might grow up to be the president of the United States one day, but if he is killed tomorrow in a car accident, you can't charge the other driver with assassinating the President. We go with what something is right now, not with what it might be at some arbitrary point in the future. The genes might be the recipe to make a human in 9 months, but you can't eat a page out of your recipe book for chocolate cake and expect it to be the same as the end product.
BTW, Nadure, I'm a recovering former Catholic myself, but even at your age I didn't buy a tenth of the nonsense that you do. No, Catholics most certainly did not invent philosophy. Hint: Socrates lived hundreds of years before Jesus and was hardly the first philosopher himself. Catholics were not the first to have hospitals, nor were they the inventors of science. They might have taken over the Roman empire, but the Romans certainly had well developed medicine with all the wars they fought, and they too were far from unique in this regard. They try to claim credit for lots of things, since they had dictatorial control over people's lives. However, even if you're going to a Catholic high school (I went to one too) they can't possible be this bad at teaching history.
Here are a couple things you should know about the Catholic church. For one thing, they are the world's oldest bureaucracy. They have taken every side of all kinds of issues. The good thing about being a Catholic is that you can believe whatever you want, and you can always find some catholic saint, church father, or theologian who agreed with you somewhere. One day, if they survive, you may live to see the Catholic Church do a complete 180 on subjects like abortion and contraception. They will claim that they never said these things were wrong and that everyone just misinterpreted their teachings and took things out of context. One day, if the church survives, there will be female priests, and they will insist that it's always been what god wanted. One day Catholics will take control back from divine right monarchs like the Pope, the church will reflect what the people want, rather than what some very old man in drag would like to see happen.
I know you don't believe that, probably because you are unaware that the Church refused to rule ex Cathedra on abortion. You CAN be Catholic and pro-choice, contrary to what the bumper sticker says. The reality is that the church is afraid to issue authoritative rulings on these kinds of things anymore because they have been badly embarrassed or painted into corners in the past on many topics such as contraception, celibacy, in-vitro fertilization, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, homosexuality, vaccinations, transplants, cadaver use, etc. For example, the vast majority of catholics report using contraception, even though it is officially against the silly teachings of an out-of-touch bureaucracy.
Abortion is just one more thing that the church managed to get wrong in the modern world, but they have tried to leave themselves an out. Their dithering and meddling has actually made problems like this worse. As before, technology will just make an end run around them and make their position irrelevant.
i need to know news about this article and if it work in ocular albinism
first of all i do think it is pretty sad that people are using fantasy to backup their points. try actually quoting people that actually are real and important. gives your point more weight than if you used Tolkein or south park( and that was pretty stupid to refer to btw).
I agree pretty much 100% with aarontco so i wont restate his points. but on the morals thing. if you are afraid of getting your morals hurt and if they can get hurt from what other people say than you should just shut up because I DON'T CARE. people are entitled to their opinions and i am find with that but just dont post if you think that people are hurting your feelings. this is should be a pure science discussion with maybe a little philosophy. so butt out. too much is getting taken by the idiots with "morals"