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Biotech Science

Reprogrammed Skin Cells Turned Into Baby Mice 284

Posted by timothy
from the finally-tim-can-reproduce dept.
InfiniteZero writes "According to this WSJ story, 'Two teams of Chinese researchers working separately have reprogrammed mature skin cells of mice to an embryonic-like state and used the resulting cells to create live mouse offspring. The reprogramming may bring scientists one step closer to creating medically useful stem-cell lines for treating human disease without having to resort to controversial laboratory techniques. However, the advance poses fresh ethical challenges because the results could make it easier to create human clones and babies with specific genetic traits.'"
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Reprogrammed Skin Cells Turned Into Baby Mice

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  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:04PM (#28830499)
    one persons moral code should never prevent someone else getting medical treatment. bottom line, if you don't believe in that you don't believe in freedom. this kind of research is what will save lives in the future.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:08PM (#28830535) Journal
    I am sure I am not the only one who is tired of hearing about ethical challenges that come with every small new incremental step in stem cell/cloning research. The issues haven't changed, they are the same as when cloning was first brought to the public spotlight when dolly was cloned; and they are the same as have been discussed in science fiction circles way before that.

    Seriously, they freakin' took skin and turned it into another living creature! That is by far the coolest thing I've heard this week, and the only thing you can think of to say about it is something about ethical issues? That's like saying, "I invented artificial intelligence, but I don't know what to do about my ugly computer case, where can I get a nice one?" seriously, this is a problem that, while somewhat interesting, can be solved, is not particularly relevant, and really doesn't need to be discussed here.
  • by yincrash (854885) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:12PM (#28830563)
    the question is when is something considered a separate sentient being, (or a living human). i'm pretty sure punishing people for killing other innocent people (even to save another) is not considered shoving morals down throats.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:15PM (#28830593)
    Yeah, that's why a few years back I beheaded someone so I could steal their liver when mine gave out. I'm glad I got rid of my moral code years ago, it was only holding me back anyway.

    Seriously, I think you need to rethink at the very least the way you are stating your idea, because it doesn't really sound all that precise.
  • Controversial? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dov_0 (1438253) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:18PM (#28830623)
    I really don't understand how this experiment could be seen as controversial, as the cloning effort was to prove that an adult's cells could be reprogrammed to form any type of tissue, as opposed to harvesting our own young, which is clearly a practice with ethical question marks all over it. The focus was not cloning. We can do cloning well enough now. The technology already exists. What this research does mean is a glimpse into a future with no waiting lists for donor organs, no harvesting from the dead and far fewer rejection issues for new organs, as they would be your own tissue, from your own cells. Good stuff.
  • Re:Controversial? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Starlon (1492461) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:23PM (#28830679)
    The problem is some spirituals, such as Christians, believe cloning is like playing God, and should be eschewed by all means.
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:25PM (#28830695)
    wtf isn't precise about it? maybe you need to learn to read without the tinted glasses on.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:26PM (#28830703)

    the point is, we should be given the freedom to get to the point where we need to answer such moral questions like "when is an cloned organ donor human?" for ourselfs, and not have that taken away by the moralist right.

    Just because you don't believe it doesn't mean its not right. Or are you ok with the "moralist right" saying that we were created because they have the right to answer it for the world? You see, the problem is, you end up possibly killing someone else if you are wrong. And really, the least you can say is that its not human even though it is A) living B) has human DNA and C) if developed would be a functioning human being. But I'm sure you also believe that each parent can choose what to do with their kid including abusing or even killing them right?

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:35PM (#28830805)
    "But lets say for a moment that a fertilized egg is a human being"

    this is exactly what i'm talking about - i don't agree that a couple of cells constitutes a human being, so why should someone like yourself who this has zero impact on get to deny 100,000's of people potentially life saving treatments? i'd like to see these people against stem cell research look a kid dieing from organ failure in the eye, and tell him they don't believe cloned organs are worth looking into.

    i think part of the problem is a lot of people have romanticised the idea of conception, if they were to actually go to a lab and see what they are protesting about they might alter their views.

  • by Thiez (1281866) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:38PM (#28830831)

    I for one find it ridiculous that a single cell would enjoy the same rights as a real person with a personality, experiences, and so forth. The moment a single cell can be a legal human is the moment I'll embrace the concept of 'lesser' humans that can be slain for the convenience of 'superior' humans (where one human would be superior than another one when the cellcount of the former is at least 9 orders of magnitude larger than the cellcount of the latter.

    No wait, screw that. Why again does being a 'human being' make something special? Maybe that's worth examining.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:43PM (#28830881)
    "But I'm sure you also believe that each parent can choose what to do with their kid including abusing or even killing them right?"

    your talking about a functioning child there, while i'm talking about less then a dozen cells in a test tube. i appreciate you need to muddy the waters to try discredit my point but lets atleast compare apples and apples ok?

    i guess your next argument is that those cells MIGHT become a child, but by that logic i'm a murderer everytime i jack off since every sperm MIGHT have been a child, right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:44PM (#28830885)

    So given that they just managed to reprogram skin cells into an embryo and have it mature into viable offspring, it would be immoral for me to cut away live skin while cleaning off a wound because it could develop into a functioning human being? Please... if it isn't neurologically advanced enough to be aware it is a human being, it does not deserve to live over a person.

  • by maharb (1534501) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:48PM (#28830925)

    This is just about as unethical as your parents choosing to conceive you. Why does a scientist not have the right to make a human in his lab but a man and a women do have that right? What can be argued is how that created animal is treated after it is created. If it is neglected/abused/treated badly then you can start bitching.

  • by Penguinshit (591885) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @07:22PM (#28831209) Homepage Journal
    Only half, if counting complete chromosome sets.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 26, 2009 @07:29PM (#28831267)

    While I agree with your opinion - a few cells do not make a human - that's not an argument to use when trying to defend the right to do anything we want with "nonhuman" tissue.

    You classify a few cells as nonhuman. The next person classifies any fetus up to 8.99 months as nonhuman. The next person classifies blacks as nonhuman.

    No, to properly have this debate, you have to mutually (or at least majorally) define human.

  • by GlassHeart (579618) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @07:39PM (#28831363) Journal

    Whether life begins at conception depends entirely on what you mean by "life", and that's a matter for philosophy or religion, not science. Science can never change one's mind about what constitutes life, because life is life by definition.

    Whenever necessary, the people who want to believe a certain thing will refine their definitions to suit what they want to believe. Take, for example, the loophole in some laws that forgot to mention that "marriage" must be between a man and a woman that anti-gay folks are trying to close.

    While most might "agree that there is a living human at fertilization", the same most would probably not be willing to investigate every single miscarriage as an accidental death, or even potential murder case. Clearly, they're not quite fully "life", both morally and logistically.

  • Re:Controversial? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Belisarivs (526071) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @07:52PM (#28831427)

    It's more complicated than that. There are those who believe in genetic diversification, and see genetic manipulation as a threat to that, much as they see GM crops along those lines. This is more of a niche ethical argument, but it's out there.

    Additionally, and this is the ethical argument that Charles Krauthammer, (hardly a "spiritualist" and he's pro-choice), that it becomes an ethical dilemma if we create life simply to destroy it. At that point, there is a breakdown in the fundamental moral underpinnings of our concept of "natural law" and fundamental rights, and you encourage a very real threat from an ethical slippery slope.

    One of the common arguments against cloning and genetic modification from Christians (although it is espoused by non-Christians as well) that society will become increasingly intolerant of "defects", and that people considered such (like those with Down-syndrome, or even physical defects) will be considered "sub-human".

    Lastly, there is a worry that the "human" status of those cloned, despite being human, will be less than we attribute to those we consider "human".

    Our "enlightened" view of humanity took a long time to achieve. A lot of people (myself included) feel that we are pushing the limits of our shared morality is capable of dealing with. The fact that a lot of people aren't even considering the implications of these scientific advancements don't do much to alleviate that concern.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 26, 2009 @08:32PM (#28831649)

    [quote]the point is, we should be given the freedom to get to the point where we need to answer such moral questions like "when is an cloned organ donor human?" for ourselfs, and not have that taken away by the moralist right.[/quote]

    So the ends justifies the means? Welcome to the scientific worldview of Nazi Germany.

    As is rather obvious, both sides of the stem cell debate tend to be rather myopic point of view. The proponents of embryonic stem cell research tend to emphasise the source of the material, and the opponents the potential of the material.

    I think we'd all do well to take a longer term perspective. There is no question in my mind that within the next 10 years we will be able to do with adult stem cells all that we can currently do with embryonic stem cells and much, much more. The question we should be asking ourselves, how will we be viewed in 200 years time? Will we be seen in a different light to the Nazi medical experiments of the 1930s and 40s? At the moment, unfortunately, I suspect not. It just seems barbaric to engage in ethically controversial practices when a non-controversial alternative is just around the corner.

  • by Bobb9000 (796960) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @08:40PM (#28831699)
    That's interesting information regarding fetal development timing, but I'd be careful about what you mean by "sentient" here. Is a cow sentient? It has a quite well-developed nervous system, interacts with its surroundings, and will attempt to avoid being killed. Does that mean hamburger is murder? I've never seen any evidence that infants in the womb, or even recently outside of it, possess the sort of self-aware consciousness that we tend to consider uniquely human.

    I'm also somewhat skeptical of your math regarding birth control, because I know too many people with active sex lives who have somehow managed to have neither abortions nor babies over the years. It might work out in theory, but in practice...not so much.
  • by rohan972 (880586) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @09:33PM (#28832005)

    the point is, we should be given the freedom to get to the point where we need to answer such moral questions like "when is an cloned organ donor human?" for ourselfs, and not have that taken away by the moralist right.

    I agree. That's why even though I think it's wrong to kill abortionists I don't want to impose my morals on others. If you disagree with killing abortionists, don't kill abortionists. Everyone should be free to make up their own mind.

    See how ridiculous that argument is? Laws on murder should not be subject to personal opinion. While there is disagreement on whether killing an embryo should be considered murder, legally the only viable path is to have one definition for everybody. When duelling was made illegal I'm sure many did not consider it to be murder. Somebody is not going to get their way, possibly you. Deal with it. The embryos who are killed don't get to develop to the point that they can voice their opinion, so they get someone else's morals imposed on them in the most extreme manner. You don't seem to have a problem doing it to them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 26, 2009 @09:36PM (#28832025)

    Um... no... First of all at the 18th day of pregnancy fetuses have a rudimentary nervous system, they have no provable manner of sentience. Furthermore any attempt of a baby of that age to "fight off" an abortion has never been shown to be a conscious action and is much more likely to be reflex loop. Finally statistics don't work like that, in reference to the pill. Now, please don't refute it as a moral argument without any shred of supporting evidence. Please read "Principles of Biomedical Ethics" by Beauchamp before wasting other peoples time.

    Thanks!

    Biomedical Engineer

  • Re:Controversial? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Peter La Casse (3992) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @10:25PM (#28832337) Homepage

    The problem is some spirituals, such as Christians, believe . . .

    Yes, those Christians, who all believe the same thing. And they're all bigots too.

  • by bill_kress (99356) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @10:31PM (#28832367)

    Do you really not see the flaw in this analogy, or are you just trying to make a point to support a belief?

    Anyway, in case you really don't see it, the larger point of the original post was that you don't have the right to force something on someone else. Murder is the most sever of the things you could force on someone else, denying medical treatment less so...

    This leads to some pretty large topics like health care and abortion--cases where people don't all agree to the terms (Is it the fetus or the mother who is having their rights violated today?), but regardless of other topics, that's what the original poster meant and your post completely missed.

  • by freedom_india (780002) on Monday July 27, 2009 @02:19AM (#28833679) Homepage Journal

    Forget that, old man.
    I would rather build a Jessica Alba or a Cindy Crawford for me.
    As history shows, ALL new technologies have been first used for pr0n: the printing press (am sure after printing the Bible, Gutenberg's 2nd book was an early edition of P1ayboy), the telephone, the cinema, BB's, internet, virtual reality, etc.
    If this stuff about creating new life out of a few cells is true, then the first few lives well be by own Alba, or heck, even Jessica Simpson.

  • Sensationalism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Monday July 27, 2009 @04:25AM (#28834321)

    Damned popular press covering science stories...

    "All you need are somebody's skin cells to create a human baby.""

    And, you know, an embryo. Which will become a human baby all by itself anyway.

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