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Stem Cells Restore Sight For Corneal Disease Patients 223

Posted by timothy
from the soon-it'll-be-saline-&-stem-cell-solution dept.
Sean0michael writes "Australian scientists have restored the sight of three human test subjects using stem cells cultured in contact lenses. All the patients were blind in only one eye. Two were legally blind, but can now read the big letters on an eye chart. The third could read the first few lines, but is now able to pass a driver's test. The University of New South Wales reports that these patients all had damaged corneas, and the stem cells came from each person's good eye. The best part: the procedure is inexpensive, raising hopes for being able to push this to the third world sooner than other, more expensive medications."
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Stem Cells Restore Sight For Corneal Disease Patients

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  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pavon (30274) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @05:46PM (#28215449)

    Which is to be expected. Controlling the differentiation of a cell is still not completely understood and difficult to do. It is easier with partially differentiated cells, and hence with stem cells from the tissue that we wish to regrow. Therefore, the first practical treatments and applications of stem cell research will be using adult stem cells.

    Where embryonic stem cells come into play is by helping understand this differentiation process better. Increasing our knowledge will enable us to develop treatments that aren't possible using adult stem cells, but it will also likely contribute to having safer more effective adult stem cell treatments treatments. It may even shed some light into the entire aging process and cell life-cycle. They are very important things to be studying.

    To put it succinctly, adult stem cells are currently at the R&D stage, embryonic at the pure science stage. Both are important.

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @05:54PM (#28215547)

    In fact, I am not sure that there has been even one single break through that wasn't from adult stem cells.

    Plenty of research is going on in embryonic stem cells, right now. Induced pluripotent stem cells were made using lessons learned from embryonic stem cells. That's a huge one right there. And the discovery of ESC itself was a significant advance.

    You might not think of biology as being important beyond what diseases it can cure right now. /.ers tend to be annoyed by people who take this approach to computing. Hmm...

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @06:02PM (#28215661)

    Well if you threaten to cut federal funding to any university or hospital that does research on embryonic stem cells, surprise surprise, there are going to be more breakthroughs from other cell types.

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by harryandthehenderson (1559721) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @06:04PM (#28215683)
    Yep, it's amusing that they'd rather have the embryos thrown away in the garbage or incinerated rather than be used to actually further medical science.
  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harryandthehenderson (1559721) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @06:14PM (#28215767)

    Ah, dude, he said breakthroughs, not research.

    I already told you what the breakthrough was. They were able to successfully restore locomotion using embryonic stem cells in people with spinal cord injuries.

    I also did a google search and didn't find much that was successful, though there are hundreds of breakthroughs using adult stem cells.

    Which are all using as a base the work of those working on embryonic stem cells. Anyone who thinks that none of these breakthroughs were based off of any work done with embryonic stem cells is just plain ignorant.

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by citizenr (871508) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @06:34PM (#28216001) Homepage

    "The good news is no aborted fetuses were harmed in the course of these tests."

    Why is it a good news? I don't care about fetuses or some occult opinions.

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harryandthehenderson (1559721) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @06:44PM (#28216099)

    OR maybe we think that the embryos shouldn't have been created in the first place.

    Well then it's amazing that not a single one of the embryonic stem cell whiners have ever publicly stated this.

    Only take what you need for the in vitro fertilization and no more.

    But one doesn't know how many are going to be needed which is why they make and freeze so many. If you knew anything about how in-vitro fertilization works you'd know that there are usually a very small likelihood of successful implantation which is why they have to create so many.

    Then you don't have an ethical dilemma about whether to kill them by throwing them in the garbage or kill them to experiment with ESCs.

    There is nothing to kill. These are just clumps of undifferentiated cells.

    ESC research could actually induce fertilization clinics to make MORE embryos than they need, knowing they'll be used for research as well.

    And yet they don't need to since the fertilization clinics already had way more than they can use even before embryonic stem cell research started.

    But it's nice of you to put words in the mouths of people like me to tear down to benefit your argument.

    I didn't put in words into anyone's mouth. I was just describing the ultimate reality of what happens when the frozen embryos aren't allowed to be used for research. They are incinerated or simply thrown away.

    You could call it a strawman.

    Outlining the consequences of what happens when the embryos aren't allowed to be used isn't a strawman.

    Congratulations on the insightful mod since that strawman was pretty tough to tear down.

    You didn't tear anything down. You just basically repeated the wacko nonsense that comes from the religious right.

  • reason (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gary W. Longsine (124661) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @06:46PM (#28216115) Homepage Journal
    "Most people are not very susceptible to reason." -- Leonard Silk [nytimes.com]
  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday June 04, 2009 @06:50PM (#28216155) Homepage Journal

    I guess you failed reading class as well: "The tests could begin by summer, said Dr. Thomas Okarma, president and CEO of the Geron Corporation." You can't restore locomotion in patients from a test that hasn't been done yet.

    And you're a real idiot if you think that the base work in embryonic stem cells has led to anything other than cancer.

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 04, 2009 @07:01PM (#28216287)

    Well then it's amazing that not a single one of the embryonic stem cell whiners have ever publicly stated this.

    Funny, I know quite a few people that have. Maybe the bias lies in your selection of sources? Your characterization of people that disagree with you as whiners indicates you wouldn't be receptive to the position anyway. Perhaps you've heard of it but dismissed it because it doesn't fit with your "insightful" strawman?

    But one doesn't know how many are going to be needed which is why they make and freeze so many. If you knew anything about how in-vitro fertilization works you'd know that there are usually a very small likelihood of successful implantation which is why they have to create so many.

    So keep the egg and sperm separate. No combination = no life. Neither differentiates spontaneously. As is, you have multiple implantations in the hope that at least one will stick. That brings up a further ethical dilemma, create a new Octomon producing 8 kids at once, or abort the other ones that took to benefit the preferred embryo(s).

    There is nothing to kill. These are just clumps of undifferentiated cells.

    That's your OPINION. You can't back it with science since it is more of a philosophical question. I'm an atheist and yet I maintain that life begins at the moment of conception based on science as well.

    nd yet they don't need to since the fertilization clinics already had way more than they can use even before embryonic stem cell research started.

    Which proves that they were already overcreating them. What happens, if there is a run on ESC research and clinics begin to run out? Deliberate creation of new embryos for research?

    I didn't put in words into anyone's mouth. I was just describing the ultimate reality of what happens when the frozen embryos aren't allowed to be used for research. They are incinerated or simply thrown away.

    You were putting words in the mouths of the people that disagree with you. You might not wish to accept it, but you were. You were arguing your view of their position ("they'd rather...") neglecting to state any opinion of your own. Hence, you were putting words into the mouths of others.

    Outlining the consequences of what happens when the embryos aren't allowed to be used isn't a strawman.

    Pretending that there are only two choices IS creating a strawman. It deliberately ignores other choices to make it seem like they don't exist.

    You didn't tear anything down. You just basically repeated the wacko nonsense that comes from the religious right.

    No, I didn't tear anything down. YOU created a strawman for yourself to tear down. You seem to have a lot of problems with logic... you might want to take a debate class because you're all over the place. You've given no supporting argument of your own position, and have done nothing but resort to creating strawmen and mocking those that disagree with you. That might win you a political election, but it doesn't make your argument sound.

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday June 04, 2009 @07:23PM (#28216483) Homepage Journal

    No fetus has EVER been harmed in ANY stem cell test or experiment. In fact THEY CAN"T BE becasue they weren't fetuses yet. They're not even 200 cells. Hell, more cell dies last time you sneezed.

    There have been many, many, many break thoughs from harvested stem cell.

    Dumbass.

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by harryandthehenderson (1559721) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @07:24PM (#28216495)

    And if you actually READ that study, the study was done on RATS, not on humans.

    I did read the study and did know that. How does that make it any less of a breakthrough? Was the initial polio vaccine not a breakthrough just because it was only initially only worked on monkeys? I never once claimed this was some ready for human therapy but that doesn't make it any less of a breakthrough. In fact, it's because of that trial that the study I linked was approved and the ones running it admit to building upon the work of that previous trial.

    No wonder you've never heard of Humanae Vitae- you're as illiterate as any science-worshipper I've ever come across.

    Science-worshiper? Hahaha that's a funny one.

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Obfuscant (592200) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @07:45PM (#28216735)
    Well if you threaten to cut federal funding to any university or hospital that does research on embryonic stem cells, surprise surprise, there are going to be more breakthroughs from other cell types.

    You're one of those who claims funding is cut if the amount of funding doesn't get increased as much as you want, aren't you?

    Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research goes on, there are just limits on the use of new cell lines. It's an ethics thing. We already have some embryonic lines to work with, we don't need to continue what some people feel are highly unethical actions to get more, but the ones we have can be used and duplicated forever.

    It's like, do we use the information that Mengele developed, or do we use the same techniques to get more information? After all, you don't want to be seen as someone who would watch humans die just so that some non-humans don't have to, would you?

  • by jgtg32a (1173373) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @09:05PM (#28217361)
    Because mutation between generations was determined to be better for survival well before stem cells
  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc DOT paradise AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday June 04, 2009 @10:33PM (#28217803) Homepage Journal
    You want to drive people away from atheism and lend credence to GP's "science worshiper" comment? This is how to do it.

    I'm not a fan of religion myself... but posts like this show a level of fanaticism that far outweighs the what average religious folks are willing to do in terms of "forcing ... belief down the throats of others".

    This aside from the fact that you read an awful lot into his post. (Then again, reading his web site... I can kinda understand it ;)

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bendodge (998616) <bendodge@bsgpro g r ammers.com> on Friday June 05, 2009 @12:32AM (#28218491) Homepage Journal

    abort: the act of terminating a project or procedure before it is completed; (http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=abort)
    So what if abortions aren't performed on babies in wombs at 5 days. It's still a human life, and you still aborted (see definition) it. You may think it's OK to do that, but call a spade a spade and stop trying to twist the terminology. You ought to be able to defend your position on its own merits.

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday June 05, 2009 @12:33AM (#28218495)

    The fact remains that even though adult derived stem cells are a fairly new thing, there have been more actual cures from adult stem cells (greater than zero) than there have been from embryonic stem cells (exactly zero) which have been around longer. Adult derived cells have the added bonus of having no political objections for using them.

    On the cures thing, I'm going to repeat myself (this makes three by the way.)

    "It's fine to point out that no cures have come from ESC yet, but they do have other valuable uses."

    I was talking about research. Research is ongoing, that should be an indication that we don't know enough. 10 years is not enough time to learn all we can about how cells turn from "lump of clay" cells into their final form, and for that we need embryonic stem cells.

    No one seems to care that there is basic science to be done here, so let me point out we don't know what's what as far as treatments go either.

    ESC have been around longer, thats true and it's not unreasonable to ask why they haven't yeilded any cures. However, when you consider that penicillin was discovered several decades before it started really saving lives, that most of that time was spent figuring out how to purify it, and that anyone who suggested we give up on it after 10 years now is, in retrospect, very shortsighted, you can get some perspective on it. Penicillin was discovered in 1928, it wasn't until 1944 that it was being produced in quantity. While it did cure people pretty quickly, the next year, we're dealing with a much more complicated problem here than killing bacteria.

    And it's not like adult stem cells are at the finish line while ESC are tripping over the starting block. Why aren't adult stem cells being used to cure every spinal cord injury? Hint: it's not because doctors hate IVF embryos and people with spinal cord injuries. How would adult stem cells help in diseases where adult stem cells aren't there? There are studies underway with every aspect I just mentioned and adult stem cells, with a few poster children for each, yes, but no technology has yet been delivered, giving up on any of them, even if you're just interested in cures, is foolish.

    But of course, we're missing the boat entirely. What is MUCH more promising than either in terms of medical cures are induced pluripotent stem cells. Those are the ones that sidestep some of the "moral" issues AND the tissue rejection issues while delivering all of the potency of ESC. That's been around only for 2 years now, has some of it's own challenges (the oncogenes for one) and I did say "some" of the moral issues. iPSC were made using information gleaned from ESC.

    See? That's why we needed ESC research. And, again, we still have much to learn about how embryonic stem cells turn into mature cells in natural development.

    So, why on earth would you insist on continuing to research embryonic stem cells? That would be like demanding funding for cold fusion research AFTER another cheap and clean energy source had been found.

    That's a good metaphor. We would keep funding it because there's always more to learn, higher goals, even after certain goals are met. If we figured out how to make solar energy cheap, there are applications that solar can't be used for. There are things we would learn about physics by developing cold fusion. We might make cold fusion cheaper than cheap solar. And, of course, we're curious by nature.

    In the case of ESC, even if adult stem cells did all that we needed as far as tissue replacement, we'd still want to figure out certain devlopmental processes and diseases. There's as of yet no way to study cortical development on adult stem cells because adult stem cells don't make the cerebral cortex. What are we supposed to say to parents of children born with lissencephaly [wikipedia.org]? "Sorry, we can't tell you any information, but it's okay, because the rest of us have a good cure using adult stem cell therapy?"

  • Re:!embroyonic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday June 05, 2009 @02:03AM (#28218921)

    abort: the act of terminating a project or procedure before it is completed

    Who is twisting terminology here? It's typical that you went with "abort" rather than "abortion." Abortion of course, to most people, doesn't mean the act of stopping something.

    The actual definition of "abortion" from your source
    "# S: (n) abortion (termination of pregnancy)
    # S: (n) miscarriage, abortion (failure of a plan) "

    That first one is the one the anti-stem cell movement is hoping people will think of, since that's the one they're queasy about. But ESC doesn't involve pregnancy or the termination thereof. It's not a miscarriage. This isn't removing an embryo from a woman to kill it. These are embyros that were never on their way to being born, it doesn't even fall into your definition.

    The hypocrisy here is so thick I can't help but think you're trolling.

    It's still a human life...

    I'm not arrogant enough to claim I know what constitutes human life, but I do believe it's more than just having a set of nucleotide instructions on how to make a human, which is all 5 day old embryos have.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:11AM (#28219215)

    > Well then it's amazing that not a single one of the embryonic stem cell whiners have ever publicly stated this.

    Humane vitae, in 1968 argued against it. It's not our fault if you can't be bothered to read it. Catholic doctrine argues against any "production" of children outside of natural conception. This has been preached and written about worldwide. You would know that, had you had bothered to learn about the beliefs of those you argue against.

    I mean, shouldn't you know better than to argue against things you don't understand at all? What you are arguing is sort of like someone arguing that this winter was the coldest ever, so there's no such thing as global warming and wondering why all those scientists were so "stupid" that they didn't think of that.

    > Outlining the consequences of what happens when the embryos aren't allowed to be used isn't a strawman.

    No, but claiming that people have ridiculous motives when they don't is a strawman. As is claiming that your opponent is arguing one thing when they're arguing another. The religious folks don't want the extra embryos destroyed. They DO care if they're destroyed. They don't want them made in the first place (or others want them used). This leads to some wanting embryo adoption and others wanting to forgo the practice of in vitro fertilization entirely.

    It's ridiculous and disrespectful to make up someone's argument for them, especially when you're putting words in their mouths that they've never said and do not, in fact, believe. That's why I compared you to the people who do exactly that with global warming (and a great many other things).

    Your debate tactics are dishonest, the motives you ascribe to the people you debate are false, and you're too tenacious to admit wrongdoing in any of the replies I've seen in this thread. In short, you're everything I have come to expect from an internet skeptic.

    (Please note that there are, in fact, a more normal and reasonable breed of skeptics out there. They're simply less prevalent, or perhaps significantly less vocal, online.)

One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null word. -- Robert Heinlein

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