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Biotech Science

First Human Embryonic Stem Cell Study Approved 139

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the new-things-to-argue-about dept.
dogmatixpsych writes "The FDA recently approved a privately funded study where human embryonic stem cells will be transplanted into subjects with complete spinal cord injuries. All trials will be paid for and conducted by researchers working for Geron Corporation. The stem cells come from the existing lines Pres. Bush approved federal funding for in August 2001. With Barack Obama now president, many scientists believe federal funding will soon become available for embryonic stem cell research on new cell lines, resulting in additional similar studies."
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First Human Embryonic Stem Cell Study Approved

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  • Yay Obama! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Obama (1458545)

    Good move! I say Obama should be given a raise, free beer, moderations at +5, and infinite karma!

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No more Karma, lest he explode.

    • Re:Yay Obama! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sumdumass (711423) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:10PM (#26579759) Journal

      Why, Obama didn't do anything specific on this. The ban on stem cell research was always dealing with public finds. This article, even in the summery, says that it is being privately funded.

      Also, the timing is just too close to Obama's term to be something he has done. The FDA requires some pretty stringent studies and tests before it will allow something to be tested on humans. The request to the FDA for approval for the trials/stufy was probably filed months ago with tests and stuff being done years before that. It's been less then a week since Obama took office and I doubt that is enough time to submit, review, qualify and approve something with the FDA.

      If you need to cheer something, cheer private industry that didn't sit around waiting for the government to hand them money to get what they wanted to do done. Hurray for capitalism and private charity.

      • by Obama (1458545)

        Whoosh

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cekander (848307)
        Hurray for private charity, yes. But capitalism? I fail to see what capitalism has to do with with this. What makes you so sure this wouldn't have been done a long time ago if capitalism weren't around?
        • by yndrd1984 (730475)

          Hurray for private charity, yes. But capitalism? I fail to see what capitalism has to do with with this.

          Possible answers:
          1. The GP was quoting Austin Powers.
          2. It's hard to have "private charity" without "private enterprise" to provide the funds.
          3. A libertarian was taking a cheap shot.

          What makes you so sure this wouldn't have been done a long time ago if capitalism weren't around?

          Can you name a country that could fund this research (publicly or privately) that doesn't have an economy based prim

  • Food nor Drug (Score:4, Interesting)

    by planckscale (579258) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:12PM (#26578869) Journal
    Would stem cell therapy be considered drug therapy? I wonder why the FDA provides approval? Is that the only government agency that enforces this type of research? Me thinks it's great that this "work toward curing disease such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes." is finally getting the approval it deserves.
    • Re:Food nor Drug (Score:5, Informative)

      by Retric (704075) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:25PM (#26579085)
      The FDA also approves medical devices like pacemakers. While the name might not cover such things the agency covers a lot of ground.
    • Would stem cell therapy be considered drug therapy?

      Why wouldn't it? I would imagine it falls under the same general FDA guidelines as other biological agents, like deactivated virus vaccines.

      • ah hah, I see, like botox and other bacterial medicines. Yes that makes sense now. thanks!
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by plnix0 (807376)

          ah hah, I see, like botulinum toxin and other toxic medicines. Yes that makes sense now. thanks!

    • Re:Food nor Drug (Score:5, Informative)

      by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:46PM (#26579375)

      Me thinks it's great that this "work toward curing disease such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes." is finally getting the approval it deserves.

      It should be noted that, since this study is privately funded, it could have been done at any time during the Bush or Clinton Presidencies.

      It should be further noted that, since this study uses one of the "approved" stem cell lines, it could have acquired Federal funding during the Bush Presidency (but not during the Clinton Presidency, since when Clinton was President NO stem cell research was getting Federal funding).

      In other words, this particular study provides no evidence whatsoever that anything has changed in any way, however slight.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The reason it is only now getting "the approval it deserves" is because this is the first study of embryonic stem cell that has shown any promise.
  • Gotta love the FDA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:13PM (#26578875) Homepage

    Gotta love the FDA. How long has this technology been around before they finally approved the first human tests of it? Did you know that if current FDA regulations had been in place at the time, neither penicillin nor aspirin would have ever been approved for human use?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      [[citation needed]]
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Did you know that if current FDA regulations had been in place at the time, neither penicillin nor aspirin would have ever been approved for human use?

      Ummm... They may be slow and crappy, but ever? Methinks you may exaggerate...

      • by J'raxis (248192) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:27PM (#26579103) Homepage

        Not at all. I posted the full source above, but I'll excerpt the important part to demonstrate my point: "Aspirin deforms the unborn young of almost every animal species but humans and could not be marketed today if it had to go through FDA evaluations." In other words, its beneficial effects never would have been demonstrated because it would have been rejected before it even made it to human trials.

        • by cabjf (710106) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:34PM (#26579201)
          Actually, they still advise against taking Aspirin while pregnant. Pretty much all my wife was allowed to take was Tylenol for her first trimester migraines. I bet Aspirin could have past those trials with warnings not to consume while pregnant or possible pregnant being the outcome.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Phortune (1455837)
            In fairness, aspirin is fairly hazardous for quite a few people because of, among other things, its blood thinning properties (e.g. bad for anyone on warfarin or other anti-coagulants); as well as for people with stomach ulcers, because of the irritation it can cause. There are so many other pain-killers available now, that are comparatively safe, that aspirin's use for its analgesic properties has all but died out in my country (UK). Like gad_zuki! said before me, lots of drugs are prohibited during pregn
            • the others are worse (Score:3, Informative)

              by r00t (33219)

              Tylenol can easily destroy your liver. There is a very small difference between the effective dose and the poisonous dose. Add alcohol, and the situation is even worse.

              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                by Phortune (1455837)
                Outside of the US, Tylenol is known as paracetamol; one of the metabolic intermediates of which is extremely toxic and since paracetamol is metabolised in the liver, it is there that it accumulates and has its toxic effect. The toxic dose of paracetamol varies among individuals because of the polymorphic nature of the genes for the enzymes involved and because of differing rates of metabolism of this toxic intermediate. That said, the fatal toxic dose for a given individual is fairly high compared to the 5
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mr_mischief (456295)

            IANA physician or pharmacist, so this isn't qualified medical advice. Do research from better sources than Slashdot when health is concerned. This is just a tip to a couple of those sources.

            They actually recommend against aspirin as a
            fever reducer in children under the age of about 16, too. Reye's syndrome is a rare but dangerous sickness that can be triggered in victims of the chicken pox or flu viruses when given aspirin.

            Any viral infection, particularly one in which the first symptom is fever, should not

        • by gad_zuki! (70830)

          Aspirin isnt Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Advil, etc. Only real Aspirin is disallowed during pregnancy. Lots of drugs are disallowed during pregnancy. The idea that this would lead to a complete ban is ridiculous.

          • by GooberToo (74388)

            Only real Aspirin is disallowed during pregnancy

            Are you sure about that? It is my understanding all Aspirin commonly purchased is actually synthetically manufactured Aspirin. I'm not sure you can still get "real" Aspirin. Real Aspirin comes from the bark of a white willow tree where use of the bark dates at least as far back as the Romans.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by R2.0 (532027)

      Or, it could be that the technology just wasn't ready yet? Christopher Reeve, may he rest in peace, did medical research a tremendous disservice by giving the impression that stem cell research could allow him to walk again. In the popular culture, this got translated to "Bush killed Superman!!!". But it takes years for ANY therapeutic treatment to get approval for human trials, even the most minor of drugs.

      Oh, and remember Thalidomide?

      • by J'raxis (248192)

        But it takes years for ANY therapeutic treatment to get approval for human trials, even the most minor of drugs.

        That... was my point. How many people are dying because the government wants to keep people safe? I guess dying of natural causes because of the nonexistence of a cure is better than dying from a drug prematurely brought to market...

        Oh, and remember Thalidomide?

        Hey, that book chapter I posted above even has a section about this: It's called, "The Illusion of Protection: Thalidomide."

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by R2.0 (532027)

          That... was my point. How many people are dying because the government wants to keep people safe? I guess dying of natural causes because of the nonexistence of a cure is better than dying from a drug prematurely brought to market...

          It has nothing to do with what's logical; it has to with what people WANT. Congress didn't make up the regulation from thin air; their constituents were screaming for it. Were their constituents easily panicked lemmings? Yup. But you'll never convince the populace that they

          • by J'raxis (248192)

            I read the Thalidomide parts and skimmed some of the other paragraphs, and she kept talking about "agression". So I clicked on the book cover. Here's an exertp of the blurb on the flyleaf:

            I know what the book is about; I've actually read the whole book.

            Dr. Ruwart shows us how to transcend these win-lose scenarios by systematically applying the win-win tactics to our social interaction that have proves so successful in our personal lives. HEALING OUR WORLD is the first book to integrate the common elements o

    • Gotta love the FDA. How long has this technology been around before they finally approved the first human tests of it? Did you know that if current FDA regulations had been in place at the time, neither penicillin nor aspirin would have ever been approved for human use?

      The FDA also prevented Thalidomide from being sold wholesale in the country before the effects of it were known. Not the case in europe, as a result there were a lot of ugly birth defects.

      Regulation is not going to be perfect ever, as we all learned in junior high, and have learned continuously since then. Still, I'd rather have an overly cautious and slow moving bureacracy investigating medicines and treatments than just hoping big pharmecuticals listen to their conscience. Mostly because they have none

      • by J'raxis (248192)

        Regulation is not going to be perfect ever, as we all learned in junior high, and have learned continuously since then. Still, I'd rather have an overly cautious and slow moving bureacracy investigating medicines and treatments than just hoping big pharmecuticals listen to their conscience. Mostly because they have none. Oversight is definitely needed.

        Did you read the article I linked to in an earlier post? They give actual numbers as to how many people have been killed by this "overly cautious" bureaucra

        • Ever heard of a bad drug killing 30,000 people?

          No, because we have the FDA and it runs perfectly :-D. Kidding, but thalidomide, which the FDA stopped, caused 10,000 birth defects worldwide. Not to mention that FDA trials killed innumerable drugs which did well in mice but were worthless in humans. Each had lots of money sunk into them. Without the FDA, many of those drugs would have been sold anyway, in an attempt to recoup the losses. You're naive if you think otherwise.

          And the government has a conscience?

          Clever, but not the issue here. The FDA is needed to keep bad drugs from bein

        • by c6gunner (950153)

          They give actual numbers as to how many people have been killed by this "overly cautious" bureaucracy trying to protect them---30,000 in the case of a drug called propranolol, as just one example. Ever heard of a bad drug killing 30,000 people?

          Well there's a clever line of reasoning! It doesn't matter whether we have good, solid, scientific evidence that a substance is effective, safe, and side-effect free. All we need is some guy claiming it works! To hell with proper testing!

          I propose we overhaul the F

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "With Barack Obama now president, many scientists believe federal funding will soon become available for embryonic stem cell research on new cell lines, resulting in additional similar studies."

    Is there a way to stop with the political jabs and bullshit that has been floating around /. for the past few days? It's annoying.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ninnle Linux (1460113)
      What exactly is BS in what you quoted? Are you disputing the well-known fact that Bush disallowed funding for new stem cell lines beyond those already established? Or are you disputing the claim that many scientists believe that with the new administration that this will be changed? You're going to have a hard time claiming either as BS.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by R2.0 (532027)

        Bush disallowed GOVERNMENT funding of new cell lines, not private funding. If embryonic stem cells were the miracle cure that people have been claiming, you'd think there'd be plenty of private money for it.

        • But the statement the AC originally claimed was a 'bullshit political jab' explicitly referred to federal funding. So, like the GP, I have to ask how exactly is it bullshit to say that scientists expect the Obama administration to release federal funding for new cell lines? Is that such an outlandish assertion? I'm genuinely curious.

          • by R2.0 (532027)

            The OP didn't say "bullshit political jab", he said "political jabs and bullshit". This implies that the political jabs are the part he's most irritated at, and the bullshit that goes with them. And I agree with him. Slashdot seems to have a pattern where EVERY topic has Bush's name invoked. Why?

            I once asked what those posters were going to do once Obama took office. Apparently, the answer was that Bush will remain the bogeyman until the next republican president.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by KeithJM (1024071)

          Bush disallowed GOVERNMENT funding of new cell lines, not private funding.

          Bush actually disallowed any lab which receives government funding from doing research with new stem cell lines. That effectively meant that private funding didn't just have to pay for the research, but BUILDING AN IDENTICAL LAB for any university or organization that had a single government research grant.

          • Not to mention the amount of paperwork that required, ensuring that not so much as a 10 cent pipette tip purchased using federal funding was used for that. You know, because the best use of our researchers is filling out more forms, not doing research.

        • Bush disallowed GOVERNMENT funding of new cell lines, not private funding.

          The vast majority of research funding comes from federal funds. Private funding is generally spent on better investments, like a slightly better form of viagra, not primary research which will not directly lead to something profitable. And primary research that doesn't produce anything directly besides knowledge is essential to pretty much all new technology. Radio could not have been developed without Maxwell's equations, which by themselves were not something you could sell.

          Fortunately, not all governm

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by R2.0 (532027)

      "Is there a way to stop with the political jabs and bullshit that has been floating around /. for the past few days? It's annoying."

      You ARE aware this is Slashdot, right?

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It's like the lament that MTV doesn't play music videos anymore....political activists have turned digg and, to a lesser degree, slashdot into their soap boxes. And they'll never be the same again.
    • The embryonic stem cell research ban was just on FEDERAL funding of such research when using non-approved embryonic stem cell lines. This story is about privately funded research using approved stem cell lines, and so doesn't conflict with the Bush administration ban, or have anything to do with the change in administrations.
          So ya, it's a cheap shot.

  • At least we can safely say that Democrats have no problem with corporate welfare either. Yep, all of these embryonic stem cells are miracle cures, but, god forbid, every biotech company feels the need to pony up to Washington so Obama can pay for the research.

    Man, there's been a law that said that private companies can't do their own stem cell research, its only been federal funding. And if these stem cells require so much federal funding to research, just how great can they really be? I would think a fa

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      At least we can safely say that Democrats have no problem with corporate welfare either. Yep, all of these embryonic stem cells are miracle cures, but, god forbid, every biotech company feels the need to pony up to Washington so Obama can pay for the research.

      Right and like 10 TRILLION in bailouts thanks to REPUBLICAN screwups isn't corporate welfare? At least R&D funding has a decent chance to make our lives better. The bailouts are just going to office redecoration, golf trips, spa trips and fat bonus

      • by jcnnghm (538570) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:55PM (#26579513)

        The REPUBLICANS weren't behind the "affordable housing mission". Democrats blocked regulation in 2004, attacking the regulator, and defeated the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, cosponsored by John McCain. Democrats like Barney Frank cried racism whenever the republicans suggested regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and had control of the house financial services committee which oversees the GSEs.

        "I worry, frankly, that there's a tension here. The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a
        threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disastrous scenarios. And even if there were a problem, the Federal Government doesn't bail them out . But the more pressure there is there, then the less I think we see in terms of affordable housing."

        Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.)
        House Financial Services Committee hearing
        Sept. 10, 2003

        "I think this is a case where Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound, that they are not in danger of going under. They're not the best investments these days from the long- term standpoint going back. I think they are in good shape going forward. They're in a housing market. I do think their prospects going forward are very solid. And in fact, we're going to do some things that are going to improve them."

        Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.)
        July 14, 2008

        "I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

        I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this GSE reform legislation."

        John McCain
        May 26, 2006

        Here are some additional quotes from the Fannie/Freddie Fraud Investigation in 2004

        BAKER (R-LA): It is indeed a very troubling report, but it is a report of extraordinary importance not only to those who wish to own a home, but as to the taxpayers of this country who would pay the cost of the clean up of an enterprise failure.

        WATERS (D-CA): Through nearly a dozen hearings where, frankly, we were trying to fix something that wasn't broke, Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Mr. Frank Raines.

        MEEKS (D-NY): As well as the fact that I'm just pissed off at OFHEO, because if it wasn't for you, I don't think that we'd be here in the first place, and now the problem that we have and that we're faced with is: maybe some individuals who wanted to do away with GSEs in the first place, you've given them an excuse to try to have this forum so that we can talk about it and maybe change the, uh, the direction and the mission of what the GSEs had, which they've done a tremendous job. There's been nothing that was indicated that's wrong, you know, with Fannie Mae! Freddie Mac has come up on its own. And the question that then presents is the competence that -- that -- that -- that your agency uh, uh, with reference to, uh, uh, deciding and regulating these GSEs. Uh, and so, uh, I wish I could sit here and say that I'm not upset with you, but I am very upset because, you know, what you do is give -- you know, maybe giving any reason to, as Mr. Gonzales said, to give someone a heart surgery when they really don't need it.

        ROYCE (R-CA): In addition to our important oversight role in this committee, I hope that we will move swiftly to create a new regulatory structure for Fannie Mae, for Freddie Mac, and the federal home loan banks.

        CLAY (D-MO): This hea

        • Very appropriate and good response. Wish I had mod points for you.
        • by pcolaman (1208838) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:26PM (#26580057)

          I'd mod you if I had the points, but this will have to do. I have found it hilarious how many people blame Bush for the problems with our economy (blame him for the mistakes in Iraq, that's legit) when in fact the Democrats, going all the way back to Clinton, are the ones who have put us in this mess.

          I will blame the Republican majority in the House and Senate in the 90's and early this decade for not doing something about it, although admittedly they did try a few times to fix it (McCain among others). However, apparently they didn't try hard enough. People talk of wanting Bush to get tried for war crimes, but in my opinion it's people like Barnie Frank who should be impeached or recalled for willful disregard when it comes to oversight of the housing market, chiefly as it concerns Fannie and Freddie.

          It has been made crystal clear that the stimulus package, while having saved the credit industry from collapse, did little good other than to keep the majority of major banks from folding. Lending has not increased but instead continues to retract, and there is no evidence that supports the big three auto makers avoiding collapse as well (other than possibly Ford, assuming their sales recover). The handling of the economy and in particular spending has been an absolute joke over the past 4 years, and while people would love nothing better than to blame Bush, who submits yearly budgets, it is Congress, who approves the budget, who should really be at the forefront of blame. Republicans lost their mandate due to the handling of the war in Iraq. Unfortunately, most voters are too dumb to realize that the other party, the Democrats, were as clueless on the housing and credit crisis as the Republicans were on fighting a lengthy conflict in the middle east. If we only had more people who cared about the economy and the government's incompetency in managing it's duties, both parties would've been ejected from office and we'd have gotten a few more forward lookers in Washington. Too bad that'll never happen in my lifetime.

          How ironic is it that Iraq eventually turned around, whereas we're just beginning to really see the seams crack in our economy?

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          Thank you, jcnnghm. Excellent post. It's hard to refute facts such as these.

          It's hilarious when people blame this on the "unregulated market", when the exact opposite is true. This was caused by government meddling in the private sector. It was not a problem caused by "a lack of oversight". This was caused by insanely stupid policies that were almost guaranteed to be a financial train wreck in the long term. And no, this was not unforeseen by everyone. Plenty of people were plenty worried about this

        • 1. While the Democrats certainly encouraged affordable housing, no bank was required to make loans that placed it in financial risk. Many regional banks and all credit unions are coming through this unscathed because they maintained financial propriety. Nor does any of this explain the practice of issuing undocumented loans or interest only loans. These practices were simply a matter of pandering to speculators.

          2. NONE of this explains the MBS and CDS fiasco which is what dragged down investment banks like

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hatta (162192)

      As someone who works in biological research I sort of agree with you. Not that we shouldn't be funding scientific research, but no one should be able to patent research done with public money. I like the NIH rule that any federally funded research must be published in an open access journal. I would argue for another rule, that any patents from federally funded research must be licensed freely, if granted at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pcolaman (1208838)
        I think patenting work done with public money is okay, as long as, like you said, the patent is licensed freely. This protects the work of the scientists, doctors, etc, as it pertains to credit for their work, but at the same time doesn't allow them to derive obscene profits off of public money.
  • many scientists believe federal funding will soon become available for embryonic stem cell research on new cell lines, resulting in additional similar studies.

    Sounds great, but, ummm, aren't we already broke?

    • by joggle (594025)

      Up to now this company has been funding the research privately. This merely allows them to proceed to human trials, it doesn't give them federal funding to do so.

      • by feepness (543479)
        That may be true, but that's not what I was quoting.
        • by joggle (594025)

          Oh, missed the quote. I would presume that they will try to transfer existing funds for current stem cell research to new programs whenever possible. Current stem cell research only funds programs using the old embryonic stem cell lines and other non-embryonic stem cells (like mutants formed from skin cells).

          I would expect an increase in funding too, but it probably would be rather small compared to the spending on infrastructure and other programs.

    • by pcolaman (1208838)
      Not if China has anything to say about it!
  • It seems many people don't notice that "embryonic stem cell research" is different from "stem cell research." Research has been done on cures involving adult stem cells (e.g., the patients' own) already. I believe this particular ban was on embryonic stem cell research, presumably for abortion/anti-abortion reasons.

    Whether or not you agree or disagree with the use of human embryos in this example, there is a distinction that needs to be realized. Adult stem cell research has been going on, IIRC, and has

    • by halivar (535827)

      Embryonic stem cell research is legal, and always has been.

    • Ok, I'll bite. I believe that human life begins with human consciousness and thought. Since a blastocyst consists of less than 100 undifferentiated cells I don't believe that it is possible for it to meet my definition of human life.

      • That wasn't the point though. The point isn't what we think; the point is what the people think that are making it legal/supporting it. It seems to be an unstable moral/ethical position if you aren't sure if it's a human life but willing to use them anyways

      • by jbeaupre (752124)

        I believe that human life begins with human consciousness and thought.

        I've met people with driver's licenses that don't meet that definition (before and after drinking). On the other hand, should I even need a kidney, it's a definition I might just like.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        Ok, I'll bite. I believe that human life begins with human consciousness and thought. Since a blastocyst consists of less than 100 undifferentiated cells I don't believe that it is possible for it to meet my definition of human life.

        So you believe human life == consciousness AND thought?

        Therefore when you fall asleep you cease to meet your definition of human life?
        Tell me, how healthy are your liver and kidneys? What time do you usually nap?

        Seriously, while I'm obviously being facetious here, this does go t

      • by cparker15 (779546)

        So, in other words, it's not alive... yet. Isn't preventing a life from continuing to develop the same as ending it, albeit prematurely?

        I'm not saying I disagree with you--I don't. However, I also don't advocate ignoring the fact that a blastocyst is a beginning stage of something that will soon be conscious.

        • by c6gunner (950153)

          Isn't preventing a life from continuing to develop the same as ending it, albeit prematurely?

          So you're saying condoms are the tools of the Devil?

      • by n6kuy (172098)

        That's kind of a faith-based, arbitrary definition of the beginning human life, isn't it?
        Let's be scientists here.

        Lots of things are alive that don't have consciousness and thought.

      • by yndrd1984 (730475)

        Since a blastocyst consists of less than 100 undifferentiated cells I don't believe that it is possible for it to meet my definition of human life.
        It consumes nutrients, excretes wastes, grows, ... it's obviously alive. And it isn't a bacterium or a sheep - it's quite clearly a human stage in an early stage of human development.

        I believe that human life begins with human consciousness and thought.
        I think human life begins to have moral value when it develops human consciousness and thought - I sti

  • It's a shame this became political, because the fact is that stem cells from sources that don't require the destruction of life have not been adequately studied, and actually HAVE produced successful treatments.

    But, if the government slush funds are all going to be pointed at this for political reasons, I guess the embryo-farming will soon begin.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hatta (162192)

      No one is forcing anyone to stop researching promising treatments based on adult stem cells. Adult stem cells are good at some things, and they have produced successful treatments. Since we've produced successful treatments with adult stem cells, it stands to reason that we can also produce successful treatments with embryonic stem cells. It would be wrong of us to ignore those treatments and allow people to suffer unnecessarily.

      Let me also mention that ALL stem cell research requires the destruction of

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pcolaman (1208838)

        Let me also mention that ALL stem cell research requires the destruction of life. A stem cell, whether embryonic or adult, is alive.

        You are twisting the debate of the use of embryonic stem cells. It has nothing to do with objections over the destruction of the stem cells, it is how they are derived. All cells derived from humans are alive at some point, but the objection from many over using embryonic stem cells for research is the fact that they come from aborted people. As far as I'm concerned, that's what they are once they have a heartbeat. That fetus is then no longer just a fetus, but a human being. The debate to whether abor

        • by Hatta (162192)

          You are twisting the debate of the use of embryonic stem cells

          No, it's the people who use the term "life begins at conception" who twist the definition of the word life. We have to remember that there's many different types of life, it's a continuum, not binary. Some life has rights, some doesn't.

          As far as I'm concerned, that's what they are once they have a heartbeat. That fetus is then no longer just a fetus, but a human being.

          Lots of things have heartbeats and we kill them with no qualms. What's spec

  • by cosmicaug (150534) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:37PM (#26579261)

    Nice, how the wording got changed so that it says the opposite of what is conveyed by the CNN article!

    Slashdot article says:

    The stem cells come from the existing lines Pres. Bush approved federal funding for in August 2001.

    The source article actually states:

    The tests will use stem cells cultured from embryos left over in fertility clinics, which otherwise would have been discarded.

    And thus:

    Okarma said Geron did not use any federal funding for its research, and that the Bush restrictions had "devastated the field."

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Uhhh...maybe RTFA a bit more carefully? Cut and pasted from CNN:

      The Food and Drug Administration has approved the trials, which will use human stem cells authorized for research by then-President George W. Bush in 2001.

      Don't get me wrong--if you want mud to sling at the now-defunct Bush administration, the article provides plenty, but don't read selectively and accuse the editors of twisting words.

    • I also liked the wording here

      The first human embryonic stem cells were developed by Jamie Thomson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998.

      It's true, the first human embryonic stem cells were made by Dr. Thomspon in 1998. Hard times for those of us born before 1998. We had to grow using animal embryonic stem cells. That's no way to make yourself.
      ... at least I thought it was funny.

      • by pcolaman (1208838)
        Jamie Thompson jumped into a time machine after making the stem cells, and traveled back to prehistoric times in order to establish the human race. I guess this answers the chicken versus the egg argument.
    • From the article:

      The tests could begin by summer, said Dr. Thomas Okarma, president and CEO of the Geron Corporation. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the trials, which will use human stem cells authorized for research by then-President George W. Bush in 2001

      So the stem cells that will be used were definitely approved by Bush.

      Okarma didn't use federal funding for his research but the quote you have from the /. summary is... get this... STRAIGHT FROM TFA! Read it yourself. 1st sentence 10th paragraph.

      I am not a huge fan of Bush either but snipping bits and pieces from the article and then blatantly lying about it to make Bush look worse than he is is why neo-cons can demonize people like you.

  • And about damn time.
  • Why didn't the scientific community just buy access to the stem cells found in the amniotic sacs of the millions of live births that take place every year? You can't seriously argue that aborted tissue samples are needed when there is no shortage of women or hospitals that would be willing to sell the amniotic fluid from a healthy birth for scientific research.

    I have never understood the controversy here since there are plenty of alternatives to taking it from healthy babies, aborted babies, etc.

    • by jbeaupre (752124) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:13PM (#26579803)
      To put it simply, not all stem cells are created equal. It comes down to potency. By the time a baby is born, stem cells have done a lot of differentiating. They can only create a limited number of tissues. Still useful, but not as useful as early embryonic stem cells. For a quick description of the varying utility of stem cells, try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell#Potency_definitions [wikipedia.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        So you are saying that adult stem cells are not as useful to treat health problems as embryonic stem cells? If that is the case, why are there treatments already in use that use adult stem cells, but this is the first clinical trial using embryonic stem cells?
    • I have never understood the controversy here since there are plenty of alternatives to taking it from healthy babies, aborted babies, etc.

      They don't come from natural conception. ES cells are, from what I've heard, initially harvested from 5-6 day old blastocysts. This is about the time the embryo implants itself into the uterus, about a week before even a pregnancy test would reveal anything. These are by necessity embryos that are in vitro fertilized. Aborted embryos are too old.

  • Good to see that you have a president who seems to act on the basis of reality rather than listening to the mumbo jumbo of the religious fantasists. It would be nice if we had something like that in the UK.
    • Good to see that you have a president who seems to act on the basis of reality rather than listening to the mumbo jumbo of the religious fantasists. It would be nice if we had something like that in the UK.

      You do realize that Obama had zero to do with this story, don't you?
      This study is getting approved now because now is when the people doing the study finished all of the necessary preliminary work to get approval. If they had finished the preliminary work six months sooner, it would have been approved six months sooner.

      • by gothzilla (676407)

        You're going to screw everything up. Everyone knows that everything good that happens now will be because of Obama, and everything bad that happens will be Bush's fault even if it happens 4 years from now.
        Get with the program dude.

    • by pcolaman (1208838)
      We traded in someone who takes advice from religious advisers for someone who takes advice from the ACLU and MoveOn.Org. I'd call that a sideways move at best.
    • by n6kuy (172098)

      Right.
      Because #44 will "restore science to its rightful place."

      Which is somewhere above ethics, apparently.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:03PM (#26579639) Homepage Journal

    There are over 400,000 frozen embryos [ivf.net] stored in IVF clinics around America that won't be used for pregnancies. Some of them won't be released by the people whose gametes were used to create them, some won't be in a condition usable for science. But there's a lot that could be used for science. They should be, immediately. Actual people with actual diseases are already waiting for the therapies that research will bring, and the line forming behind them lines up forever into the future.

    • by pcolaman (1208838)
      Not agreeing or disagreeing with what you said, but isn't it a bit presumptuous to assume that the research will bring the therapies, rather it might be more prudent to assume that the research may bring about therapies.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        The way we do science is to say we're going to bring the therapies, then set about proving we can't. When we fail, we get the engineering and medicine. None of that says we should start by ignoring our reasons to hope we'll produce the therapies.

  • scientists are discovering ways to make adult cells revert to stem cell status

    here's a recent methodology:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090107134633.htm [sciencedaily.com]

    in the near future, there will be no need for stem cells, or rather, stem cells will be made from sources no moralist, medical ethicist, or religious dogmatist could possibly object to

    what better way to solve an intransigent divide between science and religion than to make the issue moot?

    now if only someone can come up with a methodology to ma

  • Stem cells are genotype specific. That means in order for stem cells to be available for
    YOU that YOUR stem cells (or at least those that are genetically identical to yours) must be
    available.

    For most of the population, any reliance on embryonic stem cells requires a cloned embryo be produced.

    This pretty much opens the door to human cloning, so Bill Gates can live on through a series of
    clones. There is no way this technology could ever be contained to just producing stem cells
    and make sure the embryo was de

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