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Biotech Science

Functional Neurons Created From Adult Somatic Cells 147

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the this-sounds-important dept.
mmmscience writes "Researchers at UCLA have accomplished a task that has long vexed stem cell researchers: They've created the first electronically active neurons from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. This is a great leap forward for stem cell researchers, who can apply these neurons to the study of neurodegenerative diseases."
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Functional Neurons Created From Adult Somatic Cells

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  • by Orne (144925) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:34PM (#26983737) Homepage

    Thank you Adult Stem Cell Research! You're using your own cells, so you don't run those nasty tumor [wired.com] risks like that other stem cell technology...

    • by COMON$ (806135) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:41PM (#26983843) Journal
      Why aren't we Funding this?!

      Sorry for the flame, But wow, it turns out you don't need to run the pissing matches with the pro life activists to get things done.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Current science is only about pissing matches with ideologists especially those that are majority Christian. Or at least that is how you get attention in current science. Recently something snapped and the goal of learning about the universe was pushed back behind the goal of proving religion wrong.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Pro tip: Scientific research also occurs outside of 'MERICA.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by dammy (131759)

          The only reason why the pro-abortionist are whining about lack of funding for embryonic stem cell funding is the fact industry isn't touching it. Industry isn't touching it because it's a bad investment, not because of ethical questions. Industry knows where the real benefits are for their R&D monies, adult stem cell research. They have to have a ROI on their investment, adult stem cell is most promising. Go look at where the billions they are spending are going to, that tells the tale.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by COMON$ (806135)
          Problem is, many scientists stopped being Agnostic and converted to Athiesm, which inherently skews their view. Be wary of the non-agnostic scientist, they have an agenda.
          • Be wary of those who say, "Be wary of the non-agnostic scientist, they have an agenda." for they make sweeping generalizations.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by COMON$ (806135)
              How is stating that someone with an agenda has an agenda a sweeping generalization? If I believe there is a God then my view is skewed that direction, if I say there isn't a god then my view is skewed in that direction. If I am agnostic then I dont care either way.

              Its not my problem if the elitist atheists think they are better scientists because of their skewed view --(THAT is a sweeping generalization).

        • by PortHaven (242123)

          "Current science is only about pissing matches with ideologists especially those that are majority Christian"

          Really, they're sure proving right on the stem cell issue. I think it's the ideologists who want discovery at any cost who are losing the argument. And refusing to face their failure.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by PortHaven (242123)

            Retraction....misread your post.

            Yes, science has somehow lost the beauty of discovery and become ideological and political.

            Atheism != Science

            Science is distinct from both Atheism and Religion. It is a tool, both may use...or both may ignore. And both do a lot of both!

          • "Current science is only about pissing matches with ideologists especially those that are majority Christian"

            Really, they're sure proving right on the stem cell issue. I think it's the ideologists who want discovery at any cost who are losing the argument. And refusing to face their failure.

            If it wasn't for embryonic stem cell, ESC, research how likely would it these "breakthroughs" in adult stem cells be? These breakthroughs were made possible by research on ESC. That's and it hasn't been shown yet that

      • by ArcherB (796902) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @02:01PM (#26984131) Journal

        Why aren't we Funding this?!

        Sorry for the flame, But wow, it turns out you don't need to run the pissing matches with the pro life activists to get things done.

        We ARE funding this. This is the type of research that was funded under our previous president. The only thing that was not funded was embryonic stem cell research from NEW lines. Stem cell research from then existing lines of embryonic stem cells was funded.

        Unfortunately, your are not the only one who is not aware of this. Since it was so popular to bash Bush, the common thought was that Bush banned all stem cell research. This is absolutely NOT true. Bush banned nothing! What Bush did by executive order dealt with federal funding only, and even then the only restriction was that it not fund research based on NEW stem cell lines from "discarded" embryos.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by homesnatch (1089609)
        Did anyone read the article or even summary? These are from adult cells, not embryonic stem cells. There is no controversy about this type of research.

        The only problems with this type of research is the retards that don't understand the difference and just jump at the words "stem cells" (on both sides of the issue)

      • by WebCowboy (196209)

        Why aren't we Funding this?!

        As a matter of fact, the USA was, out of necessity due to restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research in the US, funding so-called "adult stem cell" research almost exclusively, whereas in some other parts of the world the strategy was to "go for the low-hanging fruit" and concentrate on embryonic stem-cell research, to the point that funding for developing non-embryonic sources of pluripotent cells was actually quite neglected.

        It has turned out to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it takes a lot of t

        • it isn't so convenient for female donors to supply large numbers of viable eggs (to say the least--in fact fertility treatments to trigger ovulation, followed by the procedure to harvest the eggs, is hard enough on patients to do it when trying to conceive--they aren't going to do it just to sell their eggs).

          Ah but there are women who would sell some of their eggs if they could, it's currently illegal to sell eggs in the US. "Reason" magazine had an article on this, "The art of the deal in the gray market [reason.com]

        • by neomunk (913773)

          Soooo... the next time a woman asks "what can a man do that a woman can't?" the proper reply (to replace "pee standing up without getting our legs wet") is now "long-term production of raw materials to refine into stem cells"?

          But in all seriousness, thank you (and congratulations) for likely changing my mind in the stem cell debate. Your logic is excellent and insightful, and has given me sufficient reason to seriously rethink my position on embryonic stem cells.

      • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @03:19PM (#26985163)

        Sorry for the flame, But wow, it turns out you don't need to run the pissing matches with the pro life activists to get things done.

        The base knowledge for making the IPS cells, like which genes were necessary, came from... embryonic stem cell research. Had we not done that research, we never would have made IPS cells.

    • This isn't "adult stem cells" technically, adult stem cells more specifically refer to natural cells in the body that are generally thought to make fewer types of cells than embryonic stem cells. These are specifically IPS cells, adult cells (as I understand it they don't seem to need to be adult STEM cells) that have been converted to a more primitive state.

      The terminology is still being hammered out, but as of right now I don't think it's correct to call these adult stem cells, they're more similar to em

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bradbury (33372)

      Think again "oh so expert one". Tumorogenisis, or in the worst cases teratomas, are *not* a function of whether or not the cells are from "oneself" but are a question of (a) the level of mutation in the genome from which the stem cells are derived; and (b) whether or not the genetic program can properly adapt if it is used in environments which are inherently foreign which are never encountered during "normal" development. Using some pseudo-programming comparisons (a) "How long you would your program wor

    • by milamber3 (173273)

      Your kidding right? The tumor formation doesn't happen because the cells are from a different person. The tumors form because by definition stem cells can replicate in a unlimited fashion and sometimes that go out of control and becomes cancer. This is most certainly the case with adult somatic cells that are induced into pluripotent stem cells. You can even argue it is more likely for induced cells to cause tumors because the artificial steps we take to make them stem cells are not completely understood

  • by TheKidWho (705796) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:34PM (#26983753)

    I'm sure a century ago "neurologists" would have stated that the study of these diseases would have been impossible without cutting up a few people and performing experiments on them...

    • by PortHaven (242123)

      a) But did they do so AFTER the people were dead or while they were still alive? (Excluding Nazi's)

      b) Did they kill people merely in order to have test subjects?

      I do not think they were cutting up people for disease research while still alive, nor killing them for the sole purpose of doing so.

      • by TheKidWho (705796)

        Well you can't just exclude the Nazi's/Japanese and others who did such horrific acts. There was a group of people who said that we need to use live humans, and they did so.

      • It's called vivisection [wikipedia.org]. They once did it to prisoners. In other words, you could be sentenced to death by vivisection (which was pretty horrible).

        You can find several mentions of that here [wikipedia.org], in particular this part:

        Vivisection has long been practiced on human beings. Herophilos, the "father of anatomy" and founder of the first medical school in Alexandria, was described by the church leader Tertullian as having vivisected at least 600 live prisoners. In recent times, the wartime programs of Nazi Dr. Josef

  • Electronically? (Score:5, Informative)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:35PM (#26983767)

    They've created the first electronically active neurons from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

    I know it's a direct quote from TFA, but, dear God, I hope they mean "electrically active". Unless UCLA is now working for Cyberdyne...

    • by kalirion (728907)

      I know it's a direct quote from TFA, but, dear God, I hope they mean "electrically active". Unless UCLA is now working for Cyberdyne...

      I guess you haven't been paying attention. The age of Cyberdyne is over, it's all about ZeiraCorp now.

    • The Cylons were created by man.....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:40PM (#26983833)

    "The prisoners were not permanently* damaged."

    *See Patriot Act.

  • by RandCraw (1047302) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:58PM (#26984099)

    "Directed differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells generates active motor neurons"

    S Karumbayaram, BG Novitch, M Patterson, JA Umbach, L Richter, A Lindgren, AE Conway, AT Clark, SA Goldman, K Plath, M Wiedau-Pazos, HI Kornblum, WE Lowry

    "The potential for directed differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to functional post-mitotic neuronal phenotypes is unknown. Following methods shown to be effective at generating motor neurons from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), we found that once specified to a neural lineage, human iPS cells could be differentiated to form motor neurons with a similar efficiency as hESCs. Human iPS-derived cells appeared to follow a normal developmental progression associated with motor neuron formation and possessed prototypical electrophysiological properties. This is the first demonstration that human iPS-derived cells are able to generate electrically active motor neurons. These findings demonstrate the feasibility of using iPS-derived motor neuron progenitors and motor neurons in regenerative medicine applications and in vitro modeling of motor neuron diseases."

    Subscription to Wiley Interscience required for more...

            Randy

    • by andrewd18 (989408)

      Subscription to Wiley Interscience required for more...

      So, what you're saying is, these functional neurons will allow us to make mega men?

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @02:01PM (#26984133) Homepage
    Pretty soon the people not in favor of using embryonic stem research will likely join this thread and start talking about how we can just use adult cells and how that means we should never do any research on embryonic stem cells. However, this research, like most research involving adult stem cells, relied on prior work with embryonic stem cells. This sort of research is only doable because of embryonic stem cell research.
    • by ArcherB (796902) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @02:12PM (#26984283) Journal

      Pretty soon the people not in favor of using embryonic stem research will likely join this thread and start talking about how we can just use adult cells and how that means we should never do any research on embryonic stem cells. However, this research, like most research involving adult stem cells, relied on prior work with embryonic stem cells. This sort of research is only doable because of embryonic stem cell research.

      Then it's a good thing President Bush funded such research. From HERE [nih.gov]:

      Federal Policy
      President Bush's Criteria

      On August 9th, 2001, Former President George W. Bush announced that federal funds may be awarded for research using human embryonic stem cells if the following criteria are met:

              * The derivation process (which begins with the destruction of the embryo) was initiated prior to 9:00 P.M. EDT on August 9, 2001.
              * The stem cells must have been derived from an embryo that was created for reproductive purposes and was no longer needed.
              * Informed consent must have been obtained for the donation of the embryo and that donation must not have involved financial inducements.

      NIH's Role

      The NIH, as the Federal government's leading biomedical research organization, is implementing Former President Bush's policy. The NIH funds research scientists to conduct research on existing human embryonic stem cells and to explore the enormous promise of these unique cells, including their potential to produce breakthrough therapies and cures.

      Investigators from 14 laboratories in the United States, India, Israel, Singapore, Sweden, and South Korea have derived stem cells from 71 individual, genetically diverse blastocysts. These derivations meet Former President Bush's criteria for use in federally funded human embryonic stem cell research. The NIH has consulted with each of the investigators who have derived these cells. These scientists are working with the NIH and the research community to establish a research infrastructure to ensure the successful handling and the use of these cells in the laboratory.

      • by addikt10 (461932) * on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @03:27PM (#26985243)

        Yes, thereby forcing anyone with federal funding of any sort that wanted to research on lines that weren't already in place by 2001 to create entirely separate laboratories to work with these new lines.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/24/science/24conv.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 [nytimes.com]

        Gosh, I sure am glad that he supported stem cell research.

        • by ArcherB (796902)

          Yes, thereby forcing anyone with federal funding of any sort that wanted to research on lines that weren't already in place by 2001 to create entirely separate laboratories to work with these new lines.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/24/science/24conv.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 [nytimes.com]

          Gosh, I sure am glad that he supported stem cell research.

          My first response is, "So?"

          Next, you know they could actually pay for the research themselves. The research was not banned, just not funded with tax payer dollars. Maybe they could ask the German government for grant money. Maybe hit up the Saudi's for cash. Science is not dependent on government funding.

          • by omris (1211900)

            I have to point out that in capitalist systems, science is VERY dependent on government for funding. Unless a business stands to make a lot of money off your research (which is almost never the case for basic science) who is going to give you money to do it?

            • by brianerst (549609)

              I have to point out that in capitalist systems, science is VERY dependent on government for funding. Unless a business stands to make a lot of money off your research (which is almost never the case for basic science) who is going to give you money to do it?

              So, then, how is this unique to capitalist systems? Are you saying that in socialist or communist systems, the much smaller private sector does a lot of basic research?

              You could try to make the argument that in a corporatist environment dominated by monopolies you might get some private sector basic research (ala Bell Labs), but somehow I don't get the impression that's the kind of system you're pining for.

              • by omris (1211900)

                I was implying that in a communist system, science would display the same amount of dependence on government as everything else, rather than MORE dependence, as in capitalism.

            • I have to point out that in capitalist systems, science is VERY dependent on government for funding. Unless a business stands to make a lot of money off your research (which is almost never the case for basic science) who is going to give you money to do it?

              Yea, let taxpayers pay for research then let big businesses make hugh amounts of money off it. The NCI [wikipedia.org], part of the government's National Institutes of Health, spent $183 million [google.com] to develop and test the cancer drug Taxol [wikipedia.org]. Do the taxpayers own it? No,

              • by omris (1211900)

                And as much as it sucks, I'd rather have the wrong people make money off of a new cancer drug than not have the cancer drug.

                Are you suggesting that the government should stop funding science in order to stop them from making a profit off of it? That seems like a crappy trade off.

                Besides, the point stands: no one but the government funds research that they don't believe will make them rich. Sometimes the government also funds that research.

                • And as much as it sucks, I'd rather have the wrong people make money off of a new cancer drug than not have the cancer drug.

                  That's easy to solve. The NCI could have made all the data available to every company that wanted to manufacture Taxol. That would have have been better than allowing BMS exclusive rights. Each business could compeat with each other to lower costs.

                  Are you suggesting that the government should stop funding science in order to stop them from making a profit off of it? That seems like

                  • by omris (1211900)

                    To pay for the research perhaps require those companies to pay royalties in addition to an initial fee. Using Taxol as an example, each pharmaceutical would have paid say 1 or 5 million dollars then 1% on sells.

                    Now see, that sounds like a perfectly valid solution to me. But it still involves the government funding in the first place. However you did claim that:

                    While I support embryonic stem cell research, I don't support taxpayer money supporting it. Reduce taxes and let those who want ESC research donate money.

                    This is really the part I take issue with. I would like to see how much funding all Taxol projects received since the 60's adjusted to current inflation and adjusted for commercial instead of government costs. And just because not all of your research turns out to be valuable doesn't mean that the reason you got funded wasn't because some corporate execu

          • And since the existing lines were considered useless, that effectively killed research. NIH funding is the major (by a Grand Canyon sized margin) contributor to pre-clinical research. Suppose DARPA was prevented from investigating new network protocols: you would have no electronic outlet for your myopic ignorance. My life, my existence in this universe, is hanging on the outcome of clinical trials beginning now. Thanks to Bush and mindless people like you I have eight fewer years and many fewer options.
        • Yes, thereby forcing anyone with federal funding of any sort that wanted to research on lines that weren't already in place by 2001 to create entirely separate laboratories to work with these new lines.

          While I support embryonic stem cell research, I don't support taxpayer money supporting it. Reduce taxes and let those who want ESC research donate money. If government does pay for any research that research should be open sourced, taxpayers paid for it and should benefit from it.

          Falcon

          • by omris (1211900)

            I would say that it is open source. Technically.

            If you do research with federal money, you are required to make your findings available. And not just by publishing in some arcane paper journal. You have to have a full text article available online. If you publish in a journal that doesn't offer this service, the government will give you server space to host it.

            Now, it's possible that some component of your research is or becomes patented. Then you either had to have permission to use it in the first pl

            • I would say that it is open source. Technically.

              If you do research with federal money, you are required to make your findings available.

              It may be open source in the since that anyone could see it but just because it government funded doesn't mean anyone can use the info. I've posted before about how the cancer drug Taxol [wikipedia.org] was funded and developed by the National Cancer Institute [wikipedia.org], NCI. The NCI is a government office and it spent $183 million to develop Taxol. Bristol-Myers Squibb [wikipedia.org] then "bought" the exclusiv

              • by omris (1211900)

                It's true that you can't use it. But it isn't because they are hiding it. It's that someone thought that they should be able to exclusively use or sell something they created, and we as a society think that's true. It isn't an unreasonable idea. It just gets a little bizarre when you start doing things like patenting DNA sequences. I'm not intimately familiar with the Taxol thing in specific, but I would guess that the majority of the rights BMS owns have to do with the sequences of plasmids used to pr

                • It's that someone thought that they should be able to exclusively use or sell something they created, and we as a society think that's true.

                  They, BMS, didn't create it nor did they pay for it, taxpayers did.

                  I'm not intimately familiar with the Taxol thing in specific, but I would guess that the majority of the rights BMS owns have to do with the sequences of plasmids used to produce the drug and the techniques used to develop and insert them.

                  BMS owns the rights taxpayers paid for.

                  I don't know what your seco

                  • by omris (1211900)

                    There's a difference between working for the government and the government basically giving away taxpayer paid for research.

                    This is the disconnect. The government did nothing of the sort. The government does not own something you patent even if they were paying you to work on that project. The RESEARCHERS sold something that THEY owned. The government funded the research that developed it, but has no rights to the intellectual property the work produces. That's the way the deal works. You feel justified in complaining about it because someone else made money off of it later, but that was the bargain that was entered into:

                    • The government did nothing of the sort. The government does not own something you patent even if they were paying you to work on that project.

                      Yeap, this is your disconnect. The NCI, a government agency, developed and paid for Taxol. It then gave BMS exclusive rights to the data for Taxol. The General Accounting Office, a congressional office, in 2003 which concluded that the NIH, of which the NCI is part, had failed to ensure value for money. All BMS did was, once they got those rights, was reduce the c

                    • by omris (1211900)

                      Since you insist on this one example I read up on it.

                      If you look closely at the history and development of this drug, you'll find that BMS was given exclusive rights for marketing only. Neither the government nor BMS owned ANY data, since Taxol cannot be patented at all. The NCI did this to accomplish exactly what you said: reduce the production costs. That is important. This is why you buy aspirin from Bayer instead of making it yourself. If you don't like the drugs being cheaper because the wrong peo

                    • you'll find that BMS was given exclusive rights for marketing only.

                      No, BMS was give more than that, from wiki [wikipedia.org] the NCI offered "its current stock and supply from current bark stocks, together with proprietary access to the data so far collected".

                      Neither the government nor BMS owned ANY data

                      The NCI owned the date it acquired in testing Taxol. Now they may of, should have, released that data so anyone could use it but instead they gave BMS exclusive rights to use the data.

                      The NCI did this to accomplish exact

                    • by omris (1211900)

                      The fact that BMS tried to stop generic Taxol is why they didn't hold up their end of the bargain. It isn't the government's fault that BMS tried to do something shady. LOTS of drugs are researched through basic science funded by government funding and developed for production by a pharmaceutical company. If you don't like the fact that pharmaceutical companies charge too much, I wholeheartedly agree. But not funding the basic science because of one example where the deal didn't work out well is a very

    • "people not in favor of using embryonic stem research"

      I'm pretty sure he doesn't read Slashdot.

    • by PortHaven (242123)

      Learn how to drive a car before driving an 18-wheeler.

      Learn how to work with adult stem cells before (and if there is even a need) to work on fetal stem cells.

  • Here is a decent link to the differences in use and treatment: http://www.stemcellresearchfacts.com/pros_cons.html [stemcellre...hfacts.com]
    • That site is authored by an anti-ESC group. The information is incomplete and misleading. For instance, hESC are immunoprivileged meaning host-graft rejection is unlikely.
  • Another adult stem cell success? What...no need to use fetal stem cells?

    Who'd have thought such a thing???

    http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2008-10-30-troll.jpg [huffingtonpost.com]

    And I'd rather be a troll...if that means BOTH disagreeing with the mass of sheep and being right!

  • I don't really get this. They keep talking about, for example, replacing motor neurons in people with spinal injuries. This seems VERY pie in the sky to me, and here's why: A single motor neuron may be over a meter in length, running form your spine to an extremity. First of all, you need to get that new neuron to synapse with an existing neuron that's mapped to the location where you're going to run the neuron. I suppose there's probably some way to induce the synapsing, but I imagine it's a very hit or mi

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