Monday, December 06, 2004


In the past six weeks or so, our group has come to believe that many other countries have come to the forefront of stem cell technology, while America falls behind in this beneficial and profitable field. For example, England has a much more ideal system of researching stem cells. The British government supports and provides funding for stem cell research for medicinal purposes. South Korea also promotes the research and has developed a competitive program. We believe that America should similarly fund certain appropriate circumstances of embryonic stem cell research. In England, for instance, women have the opportunity to donate their stem cells that fail to develop as desired. The problem with this is that these stem cells are not ideal for growth and research. While we do not advocate cloning of any sort, we do believe that cures to diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, and paralysis, to name a few, could be developed from more extensive embryonic stem cell exploration. Cures to these diseases are more important to the world (in our opinion) than small clumps of cells that may or may not turn into a person someday. Unfortunately, many religions condemn this process, labeling it murder. Scientists frown upon this religious viewpoint and are eager to delve into these vast medical possibilities as soon as possible because any results would be extremely advantageous but would also require a very long period of time to become available.
We feel that America should at least try to use our technology to further life. The religious right should weigh their priorities differently.

Article : The University of Wisconsin at Madison

Five years later, stem cells still tantalize In early November of 1998, when human embryonic stem cells were introduced to the world, the possibilities seemed astonishing.
"It is not too unrealistic to say that this research has the potential to revolutionize the practice of medicine and improve the quality and length of life," then-National Institutes of Health Director Harold Varmus told a Senate hearing less than a month after Wisconsin biologist James Thomson reported his stem cell feat in the journal Science.
Varmus went on: "There is almost no realm of medicine that might not be touched by this innovation."
Today, five years after the shy University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist published his succinct but earthshaking paper showing that stem cells—ephemeral, blank slate cells that occur at the earliest stages of human development—could be isolated, cultured and grown in apparently limitless quantities, enthusiasm is tempered.
The public cheerleading of Varmus and others, without a doubt, helped make stem cells a household word and set a high (and unrealistic) expectation that therapies for a host of debilitating cell-based diseases were just around the corner.
There is no doubt among biologists that embryonic stem cells have vast potential. There are no other cells that can perform the same biological feats as embryonic stem cells. They can morph into any one of the 220 types of cells and tissues in the human body. Nurtured in their undifferentiated state, they can proliferate endlessly in culture, and provide a vast supply of cells for research and, someday, therapy. And perhaps most importantly of all, they provide our only window to the earliest stages of human development and, after differentiation, access to more specialized cells that could vastly improve our understanding of the onset of cell-based diseases, and perhaps ways to prevent them.
But as Thomson himself emphasized in 1998, their glitziest application in the clinic—the tantalizing potential of transforming transplant medicine by creating large quantities of cells to treat debilitating diseases such as Parkinson's, diabetes and ALS—would be a decade in the future under the best of circumstances.
"We went through this period of extreme hype and high expectations," recalls Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the private, not-for-profit foundation that holds Wisconsin's patents to stem cell technology. "Things seem to have settled down, but people still expect a lot, and we're still in a tight political environment."
Indeed, the politics of stem cells from the outset have been as far reaching as the technology itself promises to be. Extending from the Oval Office, where stem cells became the dominant domestic issue of the first eight months of the Bush Administration, to the other end of State Street, where a few state legislators remain determined to criminalize the research, the political dimensions of stem cell science have framed a national debate and influenced many aspects of how the research is done and funded.
According to Gulbrandsen, the administration's decision to permit federal funds to be used for research on at least some stem cells lines—a decision heavily influenced by former Wisconsin governor and current Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson—was a turning point in the debate.
"Bush's decision was a landmark decision," Gulbrandsen says. "A lot of people don't like it, but it was an ingenious political solution. That decision wouldn't have occurred without Tommy Thompson there."
Although wading through a political quagmire was difficult and sometimes painful for the retiring biologist Thomson, it was a necessary exercise.
"The first year or two (after first isolating the cells) were pretty much wasted due to politics," says Thomson. "But since then we've done pretty well" in the lab.
The early flood of publicity, breathless in its descriptions of the medical and research potential of stem cells, Thomson feared, would set unrealistic expectations in the public mind. Lost in the glowing words, he says, are the hard and painstaking realities of basic science.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

If we can't use stem cells, what can we use?

Scientists in Texas say a common protein called Thymosin works to protect heart attack victims from severe heart damage afterward. Some scientist, who were not involved with the experimnt, believe Thymosin could heal the heart muscles better than stem cells, and that it would be easier than trying to get stem cells prepared and injected properly. Best of all, Thymosin would not be the source of moral controversy like stem cell research is. Conservatives should appreciate this alternate to stem cell research for heart restoration. Perhaps conservatives and liberals could compromise by allowing stem cells to be used when there is not an adequate alternative, but when there is an alternative available, scientists could use that instead. Then, conservatives might feel a little like stem cells are not being used frequently enough for it to be a huge problem. I doubt it, though.

Experiments performed with mice have shown that mice that were administered one dose of Thymosin after experiencing heart failure had their heart function improve at least twice as much as mice who were not treated with the protein. This protein could lead to a remedy, other than stem cells, for the cause of heart failure. Ambulances may be equipped with Thymosin as early as next year so victims can receive protection as soon as possible after a heart attack. Stem cells, however, would not be ready to be used in America as early as next year. Any treatments using stem cells will probably take a few years before they are available, because the issue is so widely disputed (in America).

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Article: Protein Might Thwart Heart Attack Damage


Link to Article

Stem cells could repair your spinal cord
Washington | November 24, 2004 1:53:05 PM IST

A team of researchers at the University of California Irvine Reeve-Irvine Research Centre, has indicated that human embryonic stem cells can be used to create new nerve insulation tissue that can aid spinal cord repair.

The finding has potentially important implications for treatment of spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.

Researchers used human embryonic stem cells to create cells called oligodendrocytes, which are the building blocks of the myelin tissue that wraps around and insulates nerve fibers.

This tissue is critical for maintenance of proper nerve signaling in the central nervous system, and, when it is stripped away through injury or disease, sensory and motor deficiencies and, in ome cases, paralysis result. The study, which has been published in the online journal Glia, found that the oligodendrocyte cells form patches of myelin's basic protein, and compact myelin tissue wrapping around neurons in the spinal cord. This demonstrated that the oligodendrocytes derived from human embryonic stem cells can function in a living system.

"What we plan to do next is see how these cells improve sensory and motor function, and hopefully it will lead to further tests with people who suffer from these debilitating illnesses and injuries," the researchers wrote in their study. (ANI)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Article: The Attack on Adult Stem Cells

Found this on Lexis...

November 11, 2004, Thursday
LENGTH: 817 words
HEADLINE: The attack on adult stem cells
SOURCE: Scripps Howard News Service

Among the magazines even die-hard right-wingers should sometimes read are the neo-liberal ones The New Republic and the Washington Monthly. They often contain thoughtful articles with stimulating fresh thinking. Alas that makes it all the worse when they publish something moldier than a slab of Roquefort cheese. So it is with their current combined attack on adult stem cell research, designed to support the alternative of embryonic stem cells.Adult stem cells come from all over the body, plus umbilical cords and placentas. Embryonic stem cells come from pulling apart human embryos, and thus have aroused ethical concerns. The result says Chris Mooney in the Washington Monthly is that "conservatives have latched onto fringe science in order to advance moral arguments" by embracing adult stem cell research. We are presented with the illogical argument that since some people prefer adult stem cells for non-scientific reasons, they must therefore have little scientific value. Yet adult stem cells have actually been used therapeutically in the United States since 1968. At the Web site of you'll find a list, far from comprehensive, of almost 80 therapies using them. This is treatment, not practice or theory. Amazingly, there are also more than 250 adult stem cell clinical trials.In contrast, the number of treatments using embryonic stem cells is zero. The number of clinical trials involving embryonic stem cells? Zero.Embryonic stem cell propagandists will tell you adult stem cell research had a huge head start and embryonic stem cells only need time (and more importantly, massive government funding) to catch up.Yet as a new book called "The Proteus Effect" points out, both types of stem cell research date back half a century. You might think the author of The New Republic piece, Harvard Professor of Medicine Jerome Groopman, would know this since ostensibly his contribution is a review of the book. Research with embryonic stem cells has progressed at snail's pace simply because they are so terribly difficult to work with.Ironically, some of the very diseases he says embryonic stem cells MAY conquer have long been treated with adult stem cells. Groopman specifically mentions Fanconi's Anemia, but it was first treated with umbilical cord stem cells 16 years ago.The only possible advantage of embryonic stem cells is potential. "It's well established that embryonic stem cells can generate any kind of tissue found in the body," Mooney writes flatly. "There is no disagreement among experts about the capacity of (ESCs) to form any and all cells and tissues of the body," Groopman declares. Translation: Disagree with Groopman and you're not an expert.But we already know embryonic cells cannot generate placental tissue. The President's Council on Bioethics, in its January 2004 report, observes, "Embryonic stem cells are capable of becoming many different types of differentiated cells if stimulated to do so in vitro (outside the body)." However, "it is not known for certain that human embryonic stem cells in vitro can give rise to all the different cell types of the adult body." Meanwhile, three different labs have found three different adult stem cells that may be transformable to all cell types. "In aggregate, our study and various others do support the idea that one (ASC) can give rise to all types of tissue," said Ira Black, the head of one of those labs.Or perhaps we don't need a "one-size-fits-all" cell. Scientists have already discovered at least 14 different types of adult stem cells. Even if each has limited plasticity, combined they could perhaps be reprogrammed into each type of mature cell we need.So when Groopman says adult marrow cells may not be "fully optimal as treatment for many fatal diseases," he's ignoring at least 13 other adult stem cells that could be.Almost "every other week there's another interesting finding of adult (stem) cells turning into neurons or blood cells or heart muscle cells," notes molecular biologist Eric Olson at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Unfortunately, it seems every other week there's also another article in the popular press claiming adult stem cells range from nearly worthless to utterly worthless.Ironically, the original motivation for the massive disinformation campaign is precisely the relative scientific superiority of adult stem cells. Savvy venture capitalists have plowed their money into adult stem cell research and treatment, leaving embryonic stem cell researchers desperate to feed at the government trough. It is they and their supporters who have latched onto fringe science.(Michael Fumento ( is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, a nationally syndicated columnist with Scripps Howard News Service, and author of "BioEvolution: How Biotechnology is Changing our World.")

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Who should post Articles When?

Who knows what's going on as far as when we should each post an article? Do I just need to post an article every other week, or what? Perhaps I should post one next week? I need some kind of schedule for myself, well we all do. Let's get a 100 on this project!

Everything you need to know about what SCs are

I thought that it would be good to know, to the point that we could name in alphabetical order all the research institutes that specialize in stem cells, what EXACTLY these lovely things are and possible why some people would against the study of them. Right now we weight in based on what we hear from the political opinions, but we don't know what the true source of the courtroversy is.
You can rumage through here for a good while, but I would like to direct you toward the Stem Cell Basics section over the News. I would be interested to hear how many people knew exactly what stems cells were (in the true scientific sense).

Sunday, November 07, 2004

$3 billion deal in Cali

Also available here.

California gives go-ahead
to stem-cell research
Proposition 71 provides $3 billion
in state funding over next decade

MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 2:09 p.m. ET Nov. 3, 2004

Californians came down on the side of stem-cell research Tuesday by passing a controversial bond measure that devotes $3 billion to human embryonic stem-cell experiments and comprises the biggest-ever state-supported scientific research program in the country. Proposition 71 won 59 percent of the vote with about 78 percent of precincts reporting.

The passage of the measure — designed to get around the Bush administration’s restrictions on the funding of such research — will likely put California at the forefront of the field and dwarfs all current stem-cell projects in the United States, whether privately or publicly financed.

The measure gained favor in recent days — according to a poll released Sunday, 54 percent of likely voters approved of it.

Two months ago, California voters were split on the measure, according to the Field Research Corp. But Field’s poll conducted last week found approval has grown to 54 percent while 37 percent of those polled were against the measure.

The poll was carried out by telephone, in English and Spanish, with 1,086 randomly selected likely voters statewide. The margin of error was 4.3 percent.

While President Bush opposes most forms of stem-cell research, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger backed the measure, which funds embryonic stem-cell research at a state level. Federal funding is currently limited to adult stem cells and a few lines of embryonic stem cells, which many scientists say are of poor quality and unfit for research.

$300 million a year
Proposition 71 authorizes the state to sell $3 billion in bonds and then dispense nearly $300 million a year for 10 years to researchers for human embryonic stem-cell experiments, including cloning projects intended solely for research purposes. It bans the funding of cloning to create babies.

The amount of money involved far exceeds the $25 million the federal government doled out last year for such research and surpassed even Sen. John Kerry’s promise to expand funding to $100 million annually.

Many scientists believe stem cells hold vast promise for treating an array of diseases from diabetes to Parkinson’s. Stem cells can potentially grow into any type of human tissue and scientists hope to be able to direct the blank cells to grow into specific cell types needed for transplant.

Stem cells are harvested from embryos, which are destroyed in the process. They were first discovered in 1997 and even the research’s most enthusiastic supporters acknowledge that medicines created with stem cells are still many years away.

Circumventing Bush
A contentious election issue in California, the measure pitted scientists, sympathetic patients who could benefit from stem cells, and biotechnology interests against the Roman Catholic Church and conservatives opposed to the research because it involves destroying days-old embryos and cloning. State budget hawks also opposed the measure because they fear it would sink the state deeper into debt.

Some 22 Nobel laureates and many other scientists supported Proposition 71 as a way to get around the Bush administration restrictions on research. They complain that the political climate has brought the field to a virtual standstill in the United States.

Prominent supporters
Among those who bankrolled the measure was Bill Gates, who contributed $400,000. Silicon Valley tycoons such as Google investor John Doerr and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar donated millions.

Real estate developer Robert Klein II donated $2 million. Klein’s son suffers from juvenile diabetes.

Several prominent Republicans also endorsed the research, most notably former first lady Nancy Reagan. Millionaire developer Thomas Coleman, a regular contributor to GOP candidates, donated $378,000. Coleman’s daughter has diabetes.

The measure was also endorsed by actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s, and the late Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed in a riding accident.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.

Friday, November 05, 2004


Blood 'grown' from stem cells in lab

Shortages may soon be a thing of the past
November 5, 2004

By Robin Yapp

Blood shortages could end within the next five years after scientists revealed that they have "grown" blood from stem cells.
Medical experts say the breakthrough raises the prospect of creating an endless supply of blood - of all types - for use by hospitals and paramedics.
This could end the need for blood donation and the risk of infection from transmittable diseases.
Scientists at Minnesota University in the US say their findings could pave the way for laboratories to make blood to order.
Lead researcher Prof Dan Kaufman said: "This is completely normal, clean blood and we don't think there will be any problems with the immune system rejecting it. We can create different blood types.
"We are effectively growing blood to order. It takes three to four weeks and we think we will be able to create large enough quantities to set up a central store.
"We can then distribute this to whoever needs it. We think within five years we will see an end to blood shortages."
Individual bone marrow supplies could also become a reality. The team's breakthrough came while working with stem cells - master cells with the potential to transform into any type of tissue - taken from discarded in-vitro fertilisation embryos.
By adding different combinations of chemicals called growth factors, which occur naturally in the human body, scientists discovered they could turn them into various types of blood cells.
Kaufman said: "Stem cells might also be a source for bone marrow transplants, especially for those patients who do not otherwise have an appropriately matched donor."
International research is focusing on the potential of stem cells, including their development into neurons to treat brain diseases, or spinal cord cells to reverse paralysis.
In South Africa 560 000 regular donors give about 900 000 litres of blood every year.
But there are often shortages, especially during holiday periods, when blood is most likely to be in demand.