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Court Rules Against Stem Cell Policy 388

Posted by Soulskill
from the two-steps-forward,-two-steps-back dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from Reuters: "A US district court issued a preliminary injunction Monday stopping federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, in a slap to the Obama administration's new guidelines on the sensitive issue. The court ruled in favor of a suit filed in June by researchers who said human embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of human embryos. Judge Royce Lamberth granted the injunction after finding that the lawsuit would likely succeed because the guidelines violated law banning the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos. '(Embryonic stem cell) research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed,' Lamberth wrote in a 15-page ruling."
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Court Rules Against Stem Cell Policy

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  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:00PM (#33349152) Homepage

    Federal funds used to conduct research on embryos that would otherwise be destroyed anyway...

    Why distinguish?

    • by lgw (121541) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:03PM (#33349180) Journal

      For the research it seems a bit silly. But if the product of the research is a technology that requires the creation of embryos for the purpose of harvesting their cells, that's really creepy at best. Isn't that the deal with actially using an embryonic stem cell treatment - you need to alter some DNA in an embryo to match your own, let it grow then harvest it for your use, per individual?

      Some biochem geek explain this to me!

      • by Ironhandx (1762146) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:18PM (#33349282)

        I'm not exactly a bio chem geek per say, but I have done a fair amount of research, particularly into the embryonic stem cell thing.

        The problem is, destroying embryo's purposefully is what people think it always entails, in reality thats just a shortcut. Once they have embryonic stem cells from a source(something like a miscarriage etc, cells that would have been destroyed anyways) they can basically grow them in a petri dish almost indefinitely and multiply them almost infinitely. After they have a line of embryonic stem cells going they add a slurry of your DNA to them and viola, embryonic stem cells tailored to you without all that nasty purposely killing embryo's. The thing is, they need more lines of embryonic stem cells as the closer the original is to your line the easier it is for your own tailored cure, but that goes for both types of embryonic stem cells, however it adds more layers of difficulty to the non embryo destroying method than the embryo destroying one, hence the need for more lines.

        There are so many miscarriages and abortions anyways that theres no need to not use the byproduct for something useful. Its either use it or it goes in the garbage anyways.

        Any real bio chem geek feel free to correct me if I've jumbled things badly, but from what I understand, the funding was also conditional upon no embryo destruction, but lifted the blanket restriction against research into stem cells originating from embryo's period.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LordLimecat (1103839)
          Wouldnt the use of aborted fetuses carry just as much baggage (if not more) than embryos? How does that allay any objections?

          Further, if stem cell treatments take off in a big way, will miscarriages really be enough, or will be be back in this debate?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Ironhandx (1762146)

            Right, so I really shouldn't answer you, but I'll repeat myself anyways since you didn't read my post.

            "they can basically grow them in a petri dish almost indefinitely and multiply them almost infinitely"

            This nearly infinite amount from a single line sort of negates your argument in its entirety, and new technology and methods are pushing that nearly infinite line further and further back into effectively infinite territory.

            Basically, as there is a finite amount of variation in human genetic code that needs

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by The Hatchet (1766306)

            Actually embryonic stem cells are losing ground to adult stem cells, because adult stem cells have almost no chance at all of rejection, being the persons own genetic material. Also, the aborted fetuses are destroyed anyways, it would simply be putting the literally garbage (it is thrown out otherwise) to good use, and possibly saving lives. But I guess some people don't care about saving lives.

            Even though adult stem cells will be more useful, embrionic stem cells are more useful for the beginning stages o

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sorak (246725)

            I think what the other guy was referring to with IVF is this:

            When couples want to get pregnant through in vitro fertilzation, the doctor doesn't just join one sperm, and one egg, and hope it works. The process is too expensive and unreliable for it to (reasonably) work that way. So, they harvest a large number of eggs at once, and fertilize as many as possible, freezing the ones they don't need. Once the woman has been successfully impregnated, they either throw the fertilized eggs away, or send them to a s

        • by bcmm (768152) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:15PM (#33349658)
          I'm not a biochem geek either, but it is my understanding that embryonic stem cells are not harvested from fetuses but from blastocysts - a much earlier stage in the human lifecycle which consists of a sphere of undifferentiated cells, not yet even implanted in the uterus wall. They can't be obtained from abortions or miscarriages, which occur later, but rather are typically surplus IVF embryos. They sidestep a lot of ethical objections by not having any sort of nervous system, or indeed any tissue differentiation apart from a separate type of cell on the outside of the sphere that is destined to form a placenta.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Ironhandx (1762146)

            Abortions can and do occur at this stage, but you are correct on the miscarriages. Miscarriages mostly provide different types of stem cells, but there have been some research milestones made from research on them, but less in the stem cell area and more in the genetic toolkit areas.

          • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday August 23, 2010 @11:04PM (#33350358)

            They can't be obtained from abortions or miscarriages, which occur later, but rather are typically surplus IVF embryos.

            Correct, embryos harvested for ESC are 5 days post fertilization. A pregnancy test would not show that a woman is carrying a blastocyst at this point, so it is impossible that abortions will be used to supply ESC: you don't get an abortion 5 days after conception because you don't know you're pregnant.

            By the time you know you're pregnant, that embryo's stem cells have continued with development past the point of pluripotency, the ability to make any type of cell.

            They sidestep a lot of ethical objections by not having any sort of nervous system, or indeed any tissue differentiation apart from a separate type of cell on the outside of the sphere that is destined to form a placenta.

            Unfortunately, the people who object to ESC are less concerned with cell biology or anything tangible or proveable and more concerned about souls. If it has a soul, it's murder, they say.

            My question to such people is how do you know the soul is started at conception? The scripture they quote as proof is ambiguous at best (and in my opinion doesn't say much of anything relevant to the matter). I think scripture is a terrible basis for policy decisions as a rule. More importantly, it's my understanding that up until 12 days post fertilization, the embryo can split to form twins. Are these people suggesting that a twin is only half a person? Are they some type of special exception? Does twinning cause these people to question their interpretations? Of course not.

            Biology and religion have never squared well with each other, and it's pure insanity to combine those two with laws.

            • by Tanktalus (794810) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @12:58AM (#33351052) Journal

              They sidestep a lot of ethical objections by not having any sort of nervous system, or indeed any tissue differentiation apart from a separate type of cell on the outside of the sphere that is destined to form a placenta.

              Unfortunately, the people who object to ESC are less concerned with cell biology or anything tangible or proveable and more concerned about souls.

              I have to admit, I've never heard this as a stated objection to ESC. This is the first time I've heard either of these objections - either the nervous system OR the souls. Makes me wonder if it's a strawman.

              The reality is that the embryo is biologically a distinct human being. The same objection would be raised if we had to end a 20-year-old's life to save my mother, or a 10-year-old's life, or a 1-year-old's life, or a -8.3-month-old's life. You don't sacrifice one person's life for another (though they may choose to sacrifice their own life, but I don't think anyone is going to argue that an embryo can choose that sacrifice). And that's the basic objection.

              The secondary objection I've heard is that adult stem cells have managed to solve a great number of problems already, and, as far as I can tell, we haven't reached a limit (*) on those yet, so why go down an ethically controversial road when an ethically non-controversial road has not yet been fully explored (**)?

              (*) I use "limit" here more as a statistical limit (80-20 rule: 80% of the value, 20% of the work) rather than a mathematical one. Given this is /., I better make that explicit.

              (**) Here I use the term "fully" in the same sense as the above "limit". Great breakthroughs are being made regularly still. The pace has not slowed down. And, unlike AI or a lot of other technologies discussed on /., many of these are less than 5 years away from practical use.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by TFAFalcon (1839122)

                You don't sacrifice one person's life for another (though they may choose to sacrifice their own life, but I don't think anyone is going to argue that an embryo can choose that sacrifice). And that's the basic objection.

                Of course we do. If there are life or even health-threatening complications from a pregnancy the mother will often choose to terminate it. And I doubt there are many sane people that have a problem with that.

                A fetus isn't shouldn't be considered a human being until it's viable outside the womb. Until then it's just a 'potential' human being. If we start giving the same rights to a 1 day fetus that we do to a human, where does it stop? Will a man having a wet dream be accused of genocide for the murder of mi

              • The reality is that the embryo is biologically a distinct human being.

                Actually, that 'reality' is in dispute.

                Not the 'biologically distinct' aspect. The 'human being' aspect. An fertilized egg or a blastula is certainly 'human life', but by that definition so is a liver cell. The question is, is it a human being?

                I've thought about this [homeunix.net], and reached the conclusion that if it doesn't have a human brain, then it's not a human being. Whether or not a brain is a sufficient condition for 'humanity', it seems

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dave420 (699308)
              Souls do not exist. There is no evidence for them. What we call a "soul" is just the maintained state of an electro-chemical chain reaction we harbour in our bodies. It's like the flame on a candle - when the candle runs out, the flame doesn't go into another existence, or have an existential breakdown seconds before dying, it just ceases to be. Keep souls out of science, for fuck's sake. Or I guess we should ask Bigfoot what he thinks about manned space exploration and do what he thinks is right?
              • by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @10:00AM (#33354512)

                Souls do not exist. There is no evidence for them. What we call a "soul" is just the maintained state of an electro-chemical chain reaction we harbour in our bodies.

                You do realize that your third sentence directly contradicts the first two, right?

                Perhaps you meant that souls as supernatural entities that survive the death of body don't exist, which may or may not be true but is not provable either way. However, what should be pretty obvious is that people who think that they do are not going to be impressed or convinced by your assertion that they don't, especially when you deliver it in such an inaccurate form.

                Keep souls out of science, for fuck's sake. Or I guess we should ask Bigfoot what he thinks about manned space exploration and do what he thinks is right?

                We are talking about ethics here. Metaphysical questions - such as do souls exist - are unavoidable in such a context, since what is right and wrong often depend on the underlaying assumptions about the nature of reality.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by fysician (1883118)
          One thing you are grossly misunderstanding if where you describe how ESC are tailored for individuals by mixing with "slurry" of one's DNAs. Usually, "customization" of ESC with someone's DNA entails very risky process of nuclear transfer. In essence, you suck out the native nucleus and replace it your own, so ESC becomes your own cell line to transplant to whatever tissue you need to regenerate. Being able to achieve nuclear transfer with acceptable reliability alone would be a Nobel prize worthy accomplis
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Ironhandx (1762146)

            I apologize for my laymans terms and potentially making it seem more easy than it is, but I use that description frequently because it does, in laymans terms, and somewhat inaccurately, but close enough for general understanding purposes, describe it. It doesn't have anything to do with any gross misunderstanding on my part as you claim. Though your entire post seems to be a thinly veiled attack on hESCs in general. My apologies if I misread you.

            IPS's as I understand it are inferior forms of stem cells for

        • by burnin1965 (535071) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:26PM (#33349736) Homepage

          There are so many miscarriages and abortions anyways that theres no need to not use the byproduct for something useful.

          Embryonic stem cells [wikipedia.org] are not harvested from miscarriages or abortions. They are harvested from artificially fertilized eggs that grow into embryos and have reached the blastocyst [wikipedia.org] phase and have grown to 50 to 150 cells in size.

          The blastocyst that is the source of ebryonic stem cells has never came into contact with a uterus, has never been implanted into the wall of a uterus and absolutely positively never will develop beyond the blastocyst phase since there is no uterus in which to embed itself and start the process of developing the umbilical cord.

          There are ethical issues that we need to deal with but it is important to have the facts on which to base conclusions as there are many people who try to confuse the uninformed and have them believe that the evil scientists are ripping babies from the womb and killing them to collect stem cells. This is nowhere near reality.

          • This is the exact imagery I have seen many people use in an attempt to jerk the "save the children" chain to get what they want.

            I find it disgusting and immoral, and its largely coming from those claiming to be the most moral.

            Thanks for the blastocyst clarification, though someone else beat you to it by a little bit :D haha.

      • I don't think anyone envisions that the ultimate applications will require this kind of creepy on-demand harvesting. The rational is that once the factors involved in establishment and maintenance of the embryonic stem cells are understood at a sufficient level, the therapies will be based on cells derived from culture or from patient's own somatic cells. But, as you point out, the fight is over ability to obtain these unique cells for research purposes.

    • by esocid (946821)
      Because the researchers who work with adult lines don't want any competition. I find that really odd though, because any molecular biologist would much prefer embryonic lines to adult lines. Unless of course they have some moral/religious objection to it, but that wasn't their argument in this case.
    • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:30PM (#33349382)

      Federal funds used to conduct research on embryos that would otherwise be destroyed anyway...
      Why distinguish?

      Because it was the manifest and obvious intent of Congress to forbid the Federal funding of such research. See, e.g. the dickey amendment [wikipedia.org] which provides in no uncertain terms that no funds are to be expended on research in which embryos are destroyed irrespective of the origin or fate of those embryos.

      SEC. 509. (a) None of the funds made available in this Act may be used for--
      (1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or
      (2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero under 45 CFR 46.208(a)(2) and Section 498(b) of the Public Health Service Act [1](42 U.S.C. 289g(b)) (Title 42, Section 289g(b), United States Code).
      (b) For purposes of this section, the term "human embryo or embryos" includes any organism, not protected as a human subject under 45 CFR 46 (the Human Subject Protection regulations) . . . that is derived by fertilization, parthenogenesis, cloning, or any other means from one or more human gametes (sperm or egg) or human diploid cells (cells that have two sets of chromosomes, such as somatic cells).

      It is absolutely galling that Obama (& his subordinates at HHS/NIH, for whom he is responsible) would just ignore the clear language of the statute and decide to fund this research. There is just no way to square it with the statute.

      [ As an aside, as a personal political matter, I would vote against such an amendment and for unrestricted funding for stem cell research. As a legal matter before the court here, the question is whether the NIH policy comports with the law not whether the law is a good, or even coherent, one. ]

      • by GreenTom (1352587) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:04PM (#33349594)
        Hold on, selectively quoting 509(2)(b):

        For purposes of this section, the term "human embryo or embryos" includes any organism...that is derived by...any other means from...human diploid cells.

        (I know I left I lot out, but I don't think I'm distorting the meaning). As far as I can tell, liver cells in a petri dish would count as human embryos under that definition.

        • Not an "organism".

          • Not an "organism".

            Interestingly, a single hESC wouldn't count as an organism, either... you kind of need a lot of them surrounded by a trophoblast to really be capable of growing into an organism.

        • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:56PM (#33349922) Homepage Journal

          (I know I left I lot out, but I don't think I'm distorting the meaning). As far as I can tell, liver cells in a petri dish would count as human embryos under that definition.

          Then if President Obama wants the funding, he needs to convince Congress (which his party controls) to tighten the wording of the law, or repeal it altogether.

          The judge pretty much had to block this. The President can't simply wave his hand and declare a law passed by Congress (and sighed by the previous President) to be null and void. There's still that whole separation of powers thing to consider. If the wording of the Dickey Amendment is too vague, then it's the responsibility of Congress to fix it.

      • (2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death

        So, we aren't distinguishing between research destroying embryos, and research that uses embryos that necessarily are doomed to destruction if they aren't allowed to replicate in stem cell research.

        Glad I got that straight.

        There is just no way to square it with the statute.

        I disagree. Exercise the ability to distinguish, and it is clear how this is not research in which embryos are de

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Wrath0fb0b (302444)

          I disagree. Exercise the ability to distinguish, and it is clear how this is not research in which embryos are destroyed, but research in which they are allowed to live when they would otherwise be destroyed.

          This is absurd reasoning. Congress does not empower the Executive to distinguish, it bans funding to all research in which the embryo is destroyed or discarded, even if it means they are allowed to live longer than they would otherwise. That distinction just isn't in the statute and the President is not allowed to insert it just because he feels it makes better policy. If the embryo is destroyed or discarded then no Federal money can be used. It's not a difficult concept.

          It's very tempting to bend the law t

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by cgenman (325138)

      The US federal government spending 700 billion this year to destroy really, really old embryos. Why discriminate?

    • by Mex (191941)

      How does this relate to abortion?

  • by agiduda (861184) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:00PM (#33349156)
    But my mother is vegged out in a home with Alzheimer's. I may look forward to the same.
    • by omglolbah (731566)

      Indeed...

      Both my grandmothers have suffered from it.. When my father's mother died it was a relief to the whole family (sad as that sounds..).

      On my mother's side it is just as bad :(

    • by JimWise (1804930) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:34PM (#33349398)

      And why does that override moral concerns? Since you may face the same, why now allow doctors to stick your mother with probes, take core samples of her brain while still alive, test for levels of chemicals, amino acids, level of fat vs protein etc, which would be MUCH more accurate while still alive vs hours/days after death. Surely this would help gain insight and move forward scientific studies on how to detect Alzheimer's in a much earlier stage and more precise treatment for future sufferers. Why not re-open Nazi style medical tests on twins and fetuses, and why not lift all restrictions on live animal testing? How about using those on death row for medical research so they can at least be productive in death or force them to be organ donors? They will be dead anyways, those organs would just go to waste otherwise.

      Alzheimer's has occurred on both sides of my family (grandfather on the one side, great-grandfather on the other), my mom's cousin suffered from ALS for over 10 years and even wrote a book by using nothing but moving his eyebrows, and I have already suffered a viral infection that will remain with me the rest of my life. Every time it comes out of remission (I'm currently fighting my fourth bout) it causes the lining of my brain to swell, causing a good chunk of my synapses to get destroyed, and taking years for my brain to recover to about 80-90% of where it had been before. Maybe stem cell research would find a way to fully recover from each bout and keep me from having to drop out of school/work for a handful of years each time, and having to settle for a less effective brain after each occurrence. I still don't see that as a reason to try to lessen the moral implications involved in order to try to tilt the balance in a way that could possibly improve my life of the lives of my loved ones.

      I don't mean to say that the morals in stem cell research are clear cut, they definitely are not. I see NO reason though to purposely try to tilt the balance one way or another and fudge the morals and facts due to personal fears of potential illnesses, illnesses of friends and relatives, etc.

      • by KiloByte (825081) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:41PM (#33349440)

        And why does that override moral concerns?

        Because we suffer from some bozo's religion. If for you following it is more important that avoiding getting crippled and dying to a disease that makes the last 15 years of your life a hell for your family, it shouldn't stop me from having a portion of my tax money used in an attempt to keep me from that fate. And yeah, I had Alzheimer's on both sides of my family too.

        • by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:46PM (#33349474) Homepage Journal

          Treating human life as something that should be nurtured and not harvested is not something that is exclusive to religion. There are moral implications way beyond any silly mumbo jumbo myths.

          For example, I am against abortion as birth control (note the difference; sometimes they are medically necessary and then there are cases of rape, etc.) but that has zero to do with any mythical dude in a beard sitting up in the clouds. It's because I think life is precious and if someone without any special circumstances winds up pregnant then that fetus should be allowed the chance to grow to term.

          I'm not necessarily against embryonic stem cell research, but to dismiss the moral arguments as only those of people who cite their religion as the reason is misguided. My main concern with it is that we avoid any slippery slopes that lead to the production of embryos specifically for research. Then we are talking about the farming and harvesting of humans for our own gain.

          • by severoon (536737) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:26PM (#33349738) Journal

            I am against abortion as birth control (note the difference; sometimes they are medically necessary and then there are cases of rape, etc.) but that has zero to do with any mythical dude in a beard sitting up in the clouds.

            And someone else might be against the destruction of any form of human life, including human tissue comprising a mole or a tumor.

            So what? Why should anyone regard that person's opinion as more or less than relevant than yours or mine?

            Hospitals have ethics boards of experts tasked with making these kinds of medical decisions. Abortion is a personal medical procedure, not a political issue, not unlike embryonic stem cell research.

            Consider my hypothetical person that is against destruction of any form of human life. Clearly, that is not reasonable. So, based on the state of latest medical knowledge, which forms of human life are ok to destroy and which are not? I think it has to be based on some best (conservative) guess of when sentience is present. (If you think a good argument can be made around the idea of mere "potential for life," please rethink it. Before fertilization an egg & sperm have "potential for life," and conversely, a fetus removed from the womb does not have "potential for life" until fairly late in development—so late, in fact, that it may have already developed sentience, whatever that means. To be completely consistent, you would have to accept that every egg that is allowed to go unfertilized is equivalent to murder.)

            In any case, there is no one I've yet encountered that has made an argument consistent with their own views that would also prohibit embryonic stem cell research.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              And someone else might be against the destruction of any form of human life, including human tissue comprising a mole or a tumor.

              So what? Why should anyone regard that person's opinion as more or less than relevant than yours or mine?

              The idea that human cells die constantly, while the human being continues to exist, is scientific fact... that's why that person's opinion is invalid. But to determine at which point a human being exists is something that science cannot answer. A single cell, properly nouris

          • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:29PM (#33349758)

            It's because I think life is precious and if someone without any special circumstances winds up pregnant then that fetus should be allowed the chance to grow to term.

            The problem with that line of reasoning is that, when you get right down to it, life isn't all that precious. For most of the world, it's dirt cheap in fact. Let's drop the pretense that we care about a clump of tissue that has no possibility of ever being born, or that we really give a flying fuck about the unborn foetus of someone we've never met and couldn't care less about. You may think those are very important to you, but I guarantee that neither of those is as important to you as you yourself, or someone who is close to you. They shouldn't be, if you have your priorities straight.

            The reason that it's important to consider life at all stages is far more pragmatic, and you alluded to that. If we, as a society, begin to accept that life is cheap, that life isn't worth as much as we've convinced ourselves that it is, well, it may not be an embryo or a foetus. It may very well be us, and I prefer to err on the side of caution. So, a respect for human life is important, even if only from a purely selfish perspective.

            Now, having said that, I will say that your example of requiring pregnancies to continue to term regardless of whether the parents want the child is too simplistic as well. It's easy to say, "life is precious, preserve it at all costs" but one should also take into account what the child's life is going to be like, whether in fact a given society can even afford it. These are legitimately complex issues, involving a large measure of cost-benefit analysis, as cold-blooded as that can be sometimes. If you truly wish to do the most good for the most people, you have to do what is right, not just what feels right. That's very difficult to achieve for many people, because two are often diametrically opposed. As the Bishop said, "Man is a rationalizing animal, and requires training to become a rational one." Most of us never truly learn to think, because that might require painful re-evaluation of our most cherished attitudes.

            If we decide that stem-cell research is too morally repugnant to be allowed, well, we have to accept a couple of things. One: other countries point-blank will not see it the same way, and two: even if they did, there will be a cost in human life if we do not realize any potential treatments. That's why you have to be able to make reasonably dispassionate judgments based upon some actual facts, or at least logical extrapolation based on fact, rather than simply offering an unthinking Yes or No. Furthermore, you have to be prepared to change your thinking if the facts warrant it.

            And in the U.S. at least, I can say with some certainty that we're really not very good at that. Thinking with our heads, I mean ... we're damn good at knee-jerk reactions.

          • Treating human life as something that should be nurtured and not harvested is not something that is exclusive to religion.

            Embryos are not "human life." If you think they are, then explain why we don't treat miscarriage as manslaughter.

          • Treating human life as something that should be nurtured and not harvested is not something that is exclusive to religion. There are moral implications way beyond any silly mumbo jumbo myths.

            Some vegetarians say similar things about eating meat, yet I think few people would suggest we should outlaw anyone from eating meat, and I think many more of us are in agreement that their morals should not dictate what we eat. Similarly, those with objections to ESC research should avoid doing ESC research and should not use any cures derived from ESC research.

            (and FYI, we never would have gotten IPSC without ESC research, so if you're opposed to ESC research, IPSC is also not kosher for you.)

            Vegetarians

          • by TheLink (130905)

            I agree with you. It's a symbolic thing to reinforce the concept that human life is somehow special.

            After all banning research into those particular areas isn't a huge hindrance to _actual_ progress. Heck I'd say the current patent and "modern research" systems are a far bigger hindrance to _actual_ progress. Just look at the recent case where the Alzheimer's Disease researchers actually started sharing lots of data and making more progress ( http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/13/health/research/13alzheimer.htm [nytimes.com]

          • My main concern with it is that we avoid any slippery slopes that lead to the production of embryos specifically for research. Then we are talking about the farming and harvesting of humans for our own gain.

            I don't really see the issue with that. We are talking blastocysts with several hundred cells at most.

            A blastocyst is not a human being. There are no differentiated organs... and most importantly, there is no nervous system. How can you have a human being when there is no brain for a mind, and no organs?

            It is not human life that is precious, it is human beings that are precious. Cancerous tumours cut out of people are human life, biologically speaking, yet they have no special value.

            Now that's not to sa

        • You are making the assertion that the "its murder" claim can be easily disproven, which seems rather difficult given that there isnt a solid definition that everyone can agree upon for "when does humanity begin".

          And, of course, if THAT is unimportant, if all that matters is preventing disease at any cost, then we might as well get started with eugenics right now.
        • by DesScorp (410532)

          Because we suffer from some bozo's religion.

          Except that those 'bozos' aren't keeping you from life saving embryonic stem cell cures. Reality is. All of the big advances have come from non-embryonic cell research. And despite what you might have heard, no one stopped embryonic research. It continues to this day. Results-wise, it's just been a bust compared to adult stem cell lines.

        • by pitchpipe (708843)

          Because we suffer from some bozo's religion.

          Actually, I think that it's the bozo who is suffering his religion. We just get to suffer the bozo.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:02PM (#33349566) Homepage Journal

        Why not re-open Nazi style medical tests on twins and fetuses

        Clearly your "moral concerns" don't preclude you from making inappropriate Nazi comparisons.

        None of the research that was funded by the federal gov't since 2008 had anything to do with "creating life in order to destroy it.

        Why are the "moral" ones always the quickest to bear false witness?

    • First, let me state that, in my opinion, I have no problem using stem cells from abortions or miscarriages. They're only going to be destroyed anyway. You can argue whether we should have abortions, but if we're going to have them, we might as well have some good come out of them. About the only thing I would do is require that the stem cells be donated free of charge in order to remove the belief that someone is making money off of this.

      Second, my father passed away about 10 months ago after a couple of

  • Adult stem cells are sub-par replacements for embryonic stem cells.
    • How about stemcells from infants Embillical fluid?
      There are a lot of sources for stem cells. Also this is only about Federal Funding, there are other sources as well.

      • by esocid (946821)
        Those aren't pluripotent cells. What they get from umbilical cord fluid is actually blood stem cells, which can become any type of blood cell. Embryonic stem cells can distinguish into any type of cells. Adult stem cells are limited to certain tissues. They have developed induced pluripotent cells, but they don't believe they have the same potency as true embryonic cells.
    • Source? Proof? Is there anything showing embryonic stem cells that are not genetically identical to the recipient being used successfully in humans? We are not talking about umbilical cord stem cells here. These are embryonic stem cells that are not from the recipient, if you want to compare those then I admit you are right, but the generic statement is flawed.
      • by esocid (946821)
        http://www.cell.com/retrieve/pii/S0092867404002089 [cell.com] Wagers, A.G., and Weissman, I.L. 2004. Plasticity of Adult Stem Cells. Cell 116(5):639-648.

        Now, iPS cells are a promise, but they are a lot more difficult to induce and work with compared to natural pluripotent cells (aka embryonic).
        Nishikawa, S., Goldstein, R.A., Nierras, C.R. 2008. The promise of human induced pluripotent stem cells for research and therapy. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology. 9:725-729.
    • That explains why there are multiple therapies being used today that utilize adult stem cells, yet not one that uses embryonic ones.

      Thank you for enlightening us with your (lack of) wisdom and knowledge.

    • How so? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:03PM (#33349990) Homepage Journal

      Adult stem cells are sub-par replacements for embryonic stem cells.

      And yet, despite your claim, almost all of the big advances from stem cell research has come from non-embryonic lines of cells.

      • Re:How so? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday August 23, 2010 @11:24PM (#33350472)

        Isolate a population of adult neural stem cells in a person with a spinal cord injury, without resorting to homogenizing (grinding up) their brain for FACS and I'll admit that maybe adult stem cell technology will be good enough for therapy.

        Otherwise, yeah, adult stem cells are convenient to some things, but are not the end all be all you're suggesting they are. We had good advances with carriage technology a long time before we got the internal combustion engine working, but it would have been extremely shortsighted to suggest that we shouldn't research internal combustion engines.

        Furthermore, from a research standpoint, ESC are absolutely indispensable. You can't use adult stem cells to study early development.

  • It's just the US (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nicoleb_x (1571029) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:06PM (#33349218)

    Not to worry, the reset of the world can still do embryonic research.

    • Re:It's just the US (Score:4, Informative)

      by phantomcircuit (938963) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:12PM (#33349244) Homepage

      It's just federal funding. Private funding and state funding are both pushing forward.

      • by kurokame (1764228) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:29PM (#33349372)

        Right, it's just NSF and DOH funding. Cutting it off will do absolutely nothing to prevent researchers from working on the subject. The expensive equipment will somehow turn up for free, the facilities bill will pay itself, and graduate students looking for a RA position won't mind that they can't get funding to pay for their tuition and room and board and medical and so forth if they work in such a lab - which won't do anything to curtail the production of future researchers in the general topic area.

        It's just federal funding. Right?

      • Unfortunately the impact can be quite profound. Labs typically have a number of funding sources, but the restriction imposed on using federal money for stem cell research meant that people that wanted to work on that had to build a second, separate lab to do it in. In a way that matched only by religious orthodoxies, that meant buying copies of the all same equipment (some of which run close to a million bucks) with the private money and keeping them in a separate location just to satisfy legal requirements

    • Not to worry, the reset of the world can still do embryonic research.

      Embryonic research never ceased in the US. It was never banned. Federal funding for it was restricted, but research continued from other funding sources. We've not yet reached the point where everything comes from the federal government. Yet.

    • Not to worry, the reset of the world can still do embryonic research.

      I don't know ... are you sure resetting the world is a good idea? Sometimes these things don't come back up after you reboot them.

  • Can someone explain to me why the mushrooms inhabiting Foggy Bottom continue to do things that they *know* are in direct contravention to existing law before addressing those conflicting laws *first?*

    It is because they are utter idiots, or is it because they really didn't mean it to succeed in the first place? :\

  • by fysician (1883118) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:24PM (#33349726)
    There is a good reason to avoid embryonic stem cell altogether. The biggest reason is because we have no good ways to control its potential to form teratoma, which is basically cancerous mass of tissues of all types. That's what's happening at those rogue Russian stem cell clinics. Although it is true that ESCs have the biggest potential to regenerate, it's also most potent cancer forming cells. Some theorize that cancer is actually rogue stem cells. Another practical reason why ESCs could be avoided is because adult stem cells have been shown to be able to transform to embryonic counterparts. This is a complex topic of its own. If you are interested look up IPS = induced pluripotent stem cell.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)

      There is a good reason to avoid embryonic stem cell altogether. The biggest reason is because we have no good ways to control its potential to form teratoma, which is basically cancerous mass of tissues of all types.

      I disagree. That's an excellent reason to get better at ESC technology. All medicines have adverse reactions, and I bet plenty of people would be willing to risk cancer if the process cured an even worse (in their opinion) condition.

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