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Japan Science

Acid Bath Offers Easy Path To Stem Cells 71

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the horror-movie-turned-science dept.
ananyo writes "In 2006, Japanese researchers reported a technique for creating cells that have the embryonic ability to turn into almost any cell type in the mammalian body — the now-famous induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. In papers published this week in Nature, another Japanese team says that it has come up with a surprisingly simple method — exposure to stress, including a low pH — that can make cells that are even more malleable than iPS cells, and do it faster and more efficiently. The work so far has focused on mouse white blood cells but the group are now trying to make the method work with cells from adult humans. If they're successful, that would dramatically speed up the process of creating stem cells for potential clinical applications."
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Acid Bath Offers Easy Path To Stem Cells

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  • Embryonic ability (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @09:39AM (#46099649) Journal

    What a loaded phrase. These are pluripotent adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cell treatments have never panned out; yet we have hundreds of adult stem cell treatments. This is extending the adult stem cell treatment into what people--political people--have theorized embryonic stem cells could be used for, but which has never actually worked out well.

    The term "embryonic" is often crammed into positive stem cell research in any way possible so that people can have a stronger pro-stem-cell argument base to argue for embryonic stem cell research. The term "adult" is often dropped when that's not possible, so we can just say "stem cells". You'll see research that allows us to create cells "like embryonic stem cells" or make cells "behave like embryonic stem cells" to achieve things we've never honestly achieved from embryonic stem cells not because of lack of research, but because they just don't fucking behave--ESS aren't just pluripotent, but they're essentially seeds that are pre-programmed (metaphor) to grow into whole bodies... or tumors.

    If you want to regrow tissue, adult stem cells are the way to go. If you want to regrow a variety of tissue, pluripotent adult stem cells are the way to go (or as close to it as you can get). If you want to regrow organs... that's going to be tough; you need not just pluripotency, but you need to induce the mechanisms executed after embryonic stem cells start to differentiate, but before they become simply pluripotent--you need to not grow a whole body, but grow an arm or a kidney rather than just a sheet of tissue. That's an intermediate state that's going to be hard to trigger from either end.

    • Interesting I thought they had done away with the need for Embryonic Stem Cells for at least five years by Expressing cells with the same properties from Skin Cells. Obviously I could be way out here.

      Mod Parent up!

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Apparently there's some problems with that method or it's a pain in the rear to do so.

        This new method seems to offer promise to be both cheap and easy to do so at scale.

    • by morgauxo (974071) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @09:55AM (#46099787)

      I would certainly prefer a treatment made with my own cells, with my own DNA over one made from some embryo.

      • What about stem cells, taken as an embryo, but that can be used later on the then-grown adult? I daresay it's the best of both worlds. Doesn't apply to us participating in the thread right now obviously, but why shouldn't it be possible in a decade?

        That is unless, of course, the adult stem cells are equally as useful as the embryonic ones, but even so I'd worry about radiation-induced genetic copy-errors as I get old. So, keep the "original" genes pure in some ultra-hardened bio-vault. Hell, keep the line

        • by morgauxo (974071)

          I don't know how these compare to actual embryonic stem cells but there are services that take stem cells from the umbilical chord at birth. We wanted to do this for my daughter when she was born a few years ago. Unfortunately the cost of storage was too high. I believe they are stored in liquid nitrogen until they are needed.. x number of decades later.

          Wouldn't it be awesome if our dna could be sequenced, stored digitally and then reconstituted into new stem cells as needed by a machine? Then again... un

          • That would be awesome, but I don't think the tech is nearly ready for that. We have yet to produce a proper human clone - and until we at least get that process right, it's never gonna happen. I also wonder at how much the mitochondrial DNA matters as well - something a basic DNA sequence wouldn't tell you. The important thing, I think, is to catch the DNA at its original state, before it drifts as these things tend to do with age. Adult stem cells are never going to get around that issue, but they may be t
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Most people will have some sort of idea what the difference is between any regular old human body cell and an "embryonic stem cell" and what the latter was supposed to be used for.
      It's easier to just refer to any cell that has a similar use/purpose as "embryonic stem cell" than having to re-educate people on what "pluripotent adult stem cells" are.
      Also; newspapers will attract a lot more attention with "embryonic" in the headline than "pluripotent adult".

      • Also; newspapers will attract a lot more attention with "embryonic" in the headline than "pluripotent adult".

        Well, yes; lying to your audience is what a lot of "journalists" do to get more readers. Just take a look at the supermarket checkout line sometime.

      • Re:Embryonic ability (Score:4, Informative)

        by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @11:03AM (#46100315) Journal

        No, the problem is most people know they've been told "embryonic stem cells will cure every disease" or "you can make anything out of embryonic stem cells." Most people just know "stem cells" and are unaware that there's a difference; the word "embryonic" is just attached. Whenever non-embryonic stem cells are brought in, the only purpose of attaching "embryonic" is to groom your audience to follow your political opinions.

        Then you get the year 2000, with everyone arguing over stem cell bans that don't exist (Clinton banned embryonic stem cell research; Bush lifted the ban, with large restrictions). Big political issue, nobody understands the difference, they don't understand the medical position, the legislative position, or even that they're discussing a subset of a type of research--embryonic stem cell research is research into manipulating stem cells, just as adult stem cell research, but using a different starting point; this makes the issue much smaller than people ever believed.

        Then you get a voter base with incomplete knowledge. Then they may select the worst candidate because they believe all the minimally important issues are incredibly important, while all the maximally-important issues are dismissed or simply unknown.

    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      One thing that I've noticed is that people who are against embryonic stem cell research are aware that there are "adult" stem cells, and people who are for embryonic stem cell research don't seem to be aware of the existence of "adult" stem cells. I know it is selection bias, but it is amusing and sad that people I wouldn't expect to have that knowledge do and the people I would expect to have it don't.
      • My issue with embryonic stem cell research is it's an incredibly bad hack. Essentially you need to jump through all kinds of loopy hoops to make it work, then it tends to run amock (tumors), and even if it did work you have the same rejection issues as organ transplants (fixable by using your own DNA to seed an embryo as a start).

        Research into embryonic stem cells has never showed "promise"; it has always been an idealistic on-paper pursuit. There's lots of promise in the Alcubierre warp drive in the sa

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      It's completely relevant in this case: they've experimentally demonstrated that the cells are equally pluripotent to embryonic cells. That's why they bother to make the distinction between these and "common-or-garden" induced-pluripotent adult cells.

  • Wait? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550)

    Wait...I thought that the ban on stem-cell-farming from unborn babies was going to stunt US stem-cell research forever?

    I'm certain there were dozens of stories on slashot (at least) excoriating that absurd Luddite Bush for banning such practices, saying that the US would be stuck in a medical Dark Age while the rest of the world leaped forward with stem-cell therapies....hm, it's almost like the ban worked to encourage scientists worldwide to find alternative ways to get stem cells that will ultimately be t

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      There was no worldwide ban. Just USA.

      • by OG (15008)

        Exactly. There's always been incentive to use adult stem cells as that means patients could possibly become their own donors for various therapies. Until recently though (possibly, we'll see how this pans out), that was feasible with our knowledge and technology.

        It's my understanding that the Japan doesn't have the same strictures on embryonic stem cell research that we have here in the US. I haven't looked over this closely (and frankly don't have the time, I'd love to see someone more knowledgable chime i

      • by Zirbert (1936162)

        There was no ban in the USA, just a lack of federal funding. If that's a ban, then the gummint has banned my buying more computer parts because they won't pay for them.

    • Re:Wait? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Warbothong (905464) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @09:59AM (#46099817) Homepage

      Wait...I thought that the ban on stem-cell-farming from unborn babies was going to stunt US stem-cell research forever?

      TFA confirms that hypothesis: both of the techniques mentioned were discovered in Japan ;)

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Ignoring the inconvenient fact that demonstrating this technique in humans will require comparison with human embryonic stem cells.

  • Acid has been bringing us good things for years. It's true, just ask Yosemite bear.
  • Is this why they sang about abortions?

    http://www.metal-archives.com/... [metal-archives.com]
  • by Guppy (12314) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @12:15PM (#46101083)

    Now this is rather interesting. Tumor interiors are often low-pH environments, thanks to poor oxygenation and a reliance on anaerobic metabolism (see: arburg effect).

  • Instead of an acid bath, have they tried bombarding the cells with slightly-greasy solar radiation?
  • Yeah, I knew this band was fucking awesome, but not that they were alos useful for hte advance of humanity:
    http://www.metal-archives.com/... [metal-archives.com]

Brain damage is all in your head. -- Karl Lehenbauer

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