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Biotech Medicine

Breakthrough In Stem Cell Culturing 57

Posted by StoneLion
from the stem-celebration dept.
Science Daily reports that for the first time, human embryonic stem cells have been cultured under chemically controlled conditions without the use of animal substances, which is essential for future clinical uses. "Now, for the first time, we can produce large quantities of human embryonic stem cells in an environment that is completely chemically defined," says professor Karl Tryggvason, who led the study at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet. "This opens up new opportunities for developing different types of cells which can then be tested for the treatment of disease."
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Breakthrough In Stem Cell Culturing

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  • Advances (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Monday May 31, 2010 @12:52PM (#32408270)
    Along with the recent news of the creation of an artificial cell, it seems like biotechnology is the truly "hot" field these days.
  • by Barrinmw (1791848) on Monday May 31, 2010 @12:59PM (#32408318)
    They can find the cure for alzheimer's before I really have to worry about it.
  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Monday May 31, 2010 @01:29PM (#32408522) Journal

    It's funny until you've seen it happen. The person with Alzheimer's will certainyl forget but those around them certainly won't. Eventually Alzheimer's gets to the point where they forget *everyone* and everything. They often have depression from the times that they realize what is going on and not knowing who anyone is around them. Alzheimer's fractures the mind to the point where it has effectively combined aspects from their childhood, teenage years, adulthood and older years all wrapped up in the same person. They lose the ability to speak, walk and in the end even move. As bad as it is for them, it is fucking terrible for their family to watch that unfold when you know that there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. Stem cell research has the potential to significantly curb the effects of Alzheimer's but alas it will not be in time for my own grandmother who is in the final stages of Alzheimer's.

  • This is good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday May 31, 2010 @01:29PM (#32408526) Homepage Journal

    We remove some of the ethical concerns that go with stem cell research. This should go a long way in advancing medical science.

  • Patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blackfrancis75 (911664) on Monday May 31, 2010 @01:34PM (#32408570)
    Best of all; it happened in Europe, so we don't have to worry about some self-serving corporate trying to patent 'Chemically Controlled Stem Cell Culturing' to make $$$ for themselves at the cost of all humanities medical advancement.
  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Monday May 31, 2010 @01:38PM (#32408612)
    With stems cells down the road. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, aka therapeutic cloning. (If you thought people had moral problems with using embryonic stem cells man they're going to flip out over that one.)
  • Re:This is good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hedwards (940851) on Monday May 31, 2010 @01:59PM (#32408810)
    Don't worry, the religious right will invent knew reasons why this research is an abomination. I mean they were the ones that were opposed to stem cell research because it kills embryos, but totally fine with IVF which purposely creates more embryos than are needed and kills the extras.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <{skennedy} {at} {tpno-co.org}> on Monday May 31, 2010 @02:00PM (#32408830) Homepage

    Situations like those you specified always made me curious; at what point is life no longer worth living? I live and die by my mind. The thought of a disease stealing it away from me, a little at a time, is my version of hell. I know I would prefer to be put out of my misery long before the disease takes me. I can't be alone in this.

    Not only would I be spared months/years of hell, but so would my family. That last point alone would be worth it to me.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday May 31, 2010 @10:13PM (#32413566) Homepage Journal

    US Federal funds were cut off from embryonic stem cell research by Bush in 2001. That was a big change, since US Federal funding is a giant part of global medical research. The US and its Federal funding that's no risk to the private corps that benefit from its results is indeed the center of the medical research universe. In 2001, embryonic stem cells were the most likely kind to produce results. That was slowed a very great deal until the funding was allowed again last year. And now just a year later is this breakthru. Showing just how valuable throwing money at this problem is, compared to denying it money.

    In the real world, cutting off stem cell funding in 2001 was an epic setback to the medical research. And in the real world, real people who could benefit suffered without it.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:12AM (#32415752)

    If embryonic stem cell research hadn't been banned by Republicans pandering to theocrats and drug corps for so long, this technique that finally unleashes stem cells for therapies might have been developed 8 years earlier.

    I'm a cell biologist, a staunch democrat, and was astounded at how stupid Bush's actions were, but that's not exactly fair.

    First and foremost, this is not a startling new discovery, the same group published a paper in 2008 showing that -mouse- embryonic stem cells grew fine on this one protein. The basic discovery didn't take place until just prior to 2008, the federal funding rules didn't affect mouse embryonic stem cell research obviously. It could have been discovered in mouse embryonic stem cells even with the funding rules under Bush, by chance it was not. Had we discovered it in mouse in, say, 2003, and then been unable to show it went for human cells too, that would be another case.

    Second, embryonic stem cells being cultured without feeder layers would not have been much cause for hope, major barriers to treatment still existed and continue to exist outside of how to grow the cells. Research into overcoming those barriers would not have been directly impacted by the ban.

    One barrier was that mbryonic stem cells were never very promising for therapeutic purposes, since you can't get ESC from a non-embryo patient. ESC from anything other than a clone could face tissue rejection issues. Within the last 3 years though, induced pluripotent stem cells were discovered/made, which would overcome those problems. I don't believe the research that went into that was significantly impacted by the ban, since again the mechanism was first identified in mouse. If your friend died last year, that would have already been discovered and is in my mind is the biggest breakthrough on spinal cord injuries we've ever seen. Recently, they've even done it without viral transfection.

    Another barrier, and possibly the biggest one remaining, is that with this method or without, we still aren't 100% capable of taking a plate of stem cells or pluripotent cells and turning them all into neurons to repair the spinal cord. Last I heard, we could get most of them to mature, but not 100% to turn from stem cell to neuron. That's unacceptable for therapy. Any undifferentiated cells injected into your spinal cord would produce tumors, and in one of the worst places to get them. Once we get there, there's still likely to be the barrier of organization, how to get these cells to make a functional cord instead of just disorganized neurons all over the place. This may have been affected somewhat by the ban, but again, mouse studies continued and we're still not there.

    Bush hindered our understanding of stem cell biology with his ignorant hypocritical meddling, but putting the blame on him is misplaced. I'm sorry about your friend, but it wasn't Bush that destroyed his hopes, we biologists failed him on our own.

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