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On Oprah today, they showed how regenerating organs is *already* possible. Apparently we all carry stem cells in our blood and that we can all grow new organs for ourselves, new blood vessels, all sorts of stuff!!!

http://www.oprah.com/media/20090305b_tows_tissue-regenerate-video

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
bellabrigida
Mar. 25th, 2009 01:20 am (UTC)
Yep. That's why I hate when people go on about how "more research" need to be done on embryonic.

Autologous tissue regrowth is ideal. IDEAL. And we have the technology. People are just being political a-holes.
dreamking00
Mar. 25th, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
The problem being--not being an Oprah watcher--is that the technology shown in the video is limited in its applications. As I understand it, the templates are seeded with cartilage cells to grow cartilage, bone cells to grow bones, etc. They've been harvesting skin cells to grow skin grafts for burn victims for many years now.

Embryonic skin cells hold much more known potential for research applications, because we *know* they're pluripotent. There's not the need to coax and coerce an adult cell back to a Stem cell state, then experiment on whether it is maybe as good for research as an embryonic cell, so that we can try and replicate what we already know how to do with embryonic cells.

The political assholes, as you so eloquently put it, are those who say that we should fight diseases and human suffering with one arm behind our back. Please bear in mind the fact that other laboratories around the world are proceeding apace with embryonic cell research, and that an eight-year moratorium on federal funding has resulted in no cures, no treatments, only in a science industry falling more and more behind in this area.

Of course it is preferable to grow new pancreatic cells from their own genetic material--cells grown from foreign tissue would suffer the same need for antirejection drugs as anything else. But it is the embryonic research that teaches the basic lessons and applications that, one hopes, can then be applied using stem cells derived from the patient's own tissues.

This is not a political issue, it is a scientific one. Cherry picking which research is palatable and which isn't, and declaring which is "ideal" based on what you want to be true--that's political.
bellabrigida
Mar. 25th, 2009 02:52 am (UTC)
First off, I don't watch Oprah. This is what I know of previous research and how it's been for ages, so Oprah talking about it is just reconfirming old stuff.

Secondly, I just disagree with you. I started to type up this whole big argument, but the thing is, I don't really want to argue it because I'm not going to change your opinion and you're not going to change mine. I think specificity and lack of rejection is a HUGE thing and that trumps everything else to me.

Then again, I'm also not too keen on the idea that you have to coax on type of cell into another for research purposes to be "maybe as good as" embryonic. How about testing them for different purposes? There's just so much wrong with this that I don't quite know where to start.

I'd just rather see specificity within a particular donor. That's where my hope is for the future.
dreamking00
Mar. 25th, 2009 11:21 am (UTC)
Then again, I'm also not too keen on the idea that you have to coax on type of cell into another for research purposes to be "maybe as good as" embryonic. How about testing them for different purposes? There's just so much wrong with this that I don't quite know where to start.

If you don't even understand the science involved, then I'm glad you left it out. Basically, a stem cell is what they call "pluripotent," meaning it is undifferentiated, raw material capable of transforming into any body tissue.

Adult cells are differentiated--skin cells make skin, bone cells comprise bone, etc. So-called "adult stem cells" that were referenced in the original post have been found to lack the full range of transformational potential, and thus hold less promise. These would be the "other purposes" you mentioned, but applications are limited.

In 2008, a group of researchers announced that they had taken skin cells from an adult mouse and coaxed them back into a pluripotent state. (A feat somewhat analogous to unbaking bread back into flour, butter, and eggs so that you can bake something different.) This was immediately seized upon by opponents of embryonic research. However, what I found very telling is that everything they were talking about doing with this breakthrough were applications developed through embryonic research. And, even before that, they expressed great concern as to whether this new cell line had equivalent potential to the standard of embryonic cells, and the need to determine its capabilities first and foremost.

Understand something very clearly: my brother is a diabetic. I am not interested in freeing him from insulin dependency only to make him dependent on lifelong antirejection drugs--as far as I'm concerned that's just swapping out the contents of the syringe. Of course it's preferable that a stem cell treatment be derived from his individual genome, but that treatment will come cheaper, faster, and be more effective through embryonic cell research, whether or not those cells are ultimately what is used to treat him.
bellabrigida
Mar. 25th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
I didn't say I didn't understand it. I said there's so much wrong with it. Those are different things. I would not take the same approach that they over, well the majority are, in research.

I'm clearly not explaining myself well, which is why I didn't want to get into it so much.

As for your brother, I understand. Lots of people have family with medical problems.
pamc
Mar. 25th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
Um... you're not informed correctly. The stem cells in the blood are undifferentiated. Even in adults.

And bellabrigida knows more than you (she works in hospital).

Do you notice you have a tendency to argue for the sake of arguing?
bellabrigida
Mar. 25th, 2009 09:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks. This is why I didn't go into research. Exactly this crap. Fascinating, wonderful stuff. Lots of opportunity, wonderful therapies (oh the things I'd like to see done with learning to create immunoglobulin rather than harvesting it...). But goddam.

Okay, off to sleep of my headache.

Just wanted to say you're awesome and I appreciate the head's up from Oprah (who knew it was going so mainstream?).



dreamking00
Mar. 25th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
from ISSCR FAQ
5. What is an adult (tissue-specific) stem cell?
Perhaps better referred to as a tissue-specific stem cell, these cells are found in tissues that have already developed. Tissue-specific stem cells can be isolated from many tissues, including brain. The most common source of tissue-specific stem cells is the bone marrow, located in the center of some bones. There are different types of stem cells found in the bone marrow, including hematopoietic or blood stem cells, endothelial stem cells, and mesenchymal stem cells. It is well established that hematopoietic stem cells form blood, that endothelial stem cells form the vascular system (arteries and veins), and that mesenchymal stem cells form bone, cartilage, muscle, fat, and fibroblasts.

While it has been theorized that some adult stem cells may have a broader potential to form different cell types than was previously suspected (for example, cells from the bone marrow may contribute to regeneration of damaged livers, hearts and other organs), this is highly controversial in the scientific community. Currently, it is not clear whether stem cells from adult tissues or umbilical cord blood are truly pluripotent. The comparison of human embryonic stem cells to adult stem cells is currently a very active area of research.
Blood stem cells are multipotent, and have some capacity for further differentiation, but are certainly more limited in their capacity for such than are embryonic stem cells.

I have a tendency to argue when I see people making false statements.
jamesofengland
Mar. 25th, 2009 10:19 am (UTC)
Do you really believe that there has been no advance in stem cell research over the last 8 years?

I seem to remember Obama saying something very similar to the last statement when he signed his executive order, only he made it even funnier by claiming that the decisions to limit some forms of cloning were also scientific rather than ethical.

Science cannot deliver norms, only facts. There is no decision that science says is "better".
dreamking00
Mar. 25th, 2009 11:01 am (UTC)
If we have come up with one cure, one treatment based solely on adult stem cell research, I have yet to hear about it. However, it is a fact that the laboratories and universities forced out of the embryonic stem cell field are farther behind--I'm sure there have been advances, in fact. But as I said, it is research that had to be done with one arm tied behind their back.

Medical breakthroughs from adult stem cells are dependent on a knowledge base created through embryonic stem cell research. If we're going to limit that, then it makes the adult cell research vastly more difficult. In the long run, it's going to cost us as laboratories, universities, and hospitals around the world leave the US behind.
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