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Biotech Science

First Human Embryonic Stem Cell Study Approved 139

dogmatixpsych writes "The FDA recently approved a privately funded study where human embryonic stem cells will be transplanted into subjects with complete spinal cord injuries. All trials will be paid for and conducted by researchers working for Geron Corporation. The stem cells come from the existing lines Pres. Bush approved federal funding for in August 2001. With Barack Obama now president, many scientists believe federal funding will soon become available for embryonic stem cell research on new cell lines, resulting in additional similar studies."
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First Human Embryonic Stem Cell Study Approved

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  • Gotta love the FDA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:13PM (#26578875) Homepage

    Gotta love the FDA. How long has this technology been around before they finally approved the first human tests of it? Did you know that if current FDA regulations had been in place at the time, neither penicillin nor aspirin would have ever been approved for human use?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:16PM (#26578927)
    [[citation needed]]
  • Re:Political BS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ninnle Linux ( 1460113 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:18PM (#26578951)
    What exactly is BS in what you quoted? Are you disputing the well-known fact that Bush disallowed funding for new stem cell lines beyond those already established? Or are you disputing the claim that many scientists believe that with the new administration that this will be changed? You're going to have a hard time claiming either as BS.
  • Re:Political BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:24PM (#26579071)

    Bush disallowed GOVERNMENT funding of new cell lines, not private funding. If embryonic stem cells were the miracle cure that people have been claiming, you'd think there'd be plenty of private money for it.

  • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:29PM (#26579147)

    Or, it could be that the technology just wasn't ready yet? Christopher Reeve, may he rest in peace, did medical research a tremendous disservice by giving the impression that stem cell research could allow him to walk again. In the popular culture, this got translated to "Bush killed Superman!!!". But it takes years for ANY therapeutic treatment to get approval for human trials, even the most minor of drugs.

    Oh, and remember Thalidomide?

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:34PM (#26579205)

    At least we can safely say that Democrats have no problem with corporate welfare either. Yep, all of these embryonic stem cells are miracle cures, but, god forbid, every biotech company feels the need to pony up to Washington so Obama can pay for the research.

    Right and like 10 TRILLION in bailouts thanks to REPUBLICAN screwups isn't corporate welfare? At least R&D funding has a decent chance to make our lives better. The bailouts are just going to office redecoration, golf trips, spa trips and fat bonuses.

  • Re:Political BS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:37PM (#26579235)

    "Is there a way to stop with the political jabs and bullshit that has been floating around /. for the past few days? It's annoying."

    You ARE aware this is Slashdot, right?

  • by BaronHethorSamedi ( 970820 ) <> on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:53PM (#26579465)
    Uhhh...maybe RTFA a bit more carefully? Cut and pasted from CNN:

    The Food and Drug Administration has approved the trials, which will use human stem cells authorized for research by then-President George W. Bush in 2001.

    Don't get me wrong--if you want mud to sling at the now-defunct Bush administration, the article provides plenty, but don't read selectively and accuse the editors of twisting words.

  • Re:Food nor Drug (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @04:09PM (#26579747)
    The reason it is only now getting "the approval it deserves" is because this is the first study of embryonic stem cell that has shown any promise.
  • Re:Yay Obama! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @04:10PM (#26579759) Journal

    Why, Obama didn't do anything specific on this. The ban on stem cell research was always dealing with public finds. This article, even in the summery, says that it is being privately funded.

    Also, the timing is just too close to Obama's term to be something he has done. The FDA requires some pretty stringent studies and tests before it will allow something to be tested on humans. The request to the FDA for approval for the trials/stufy was probably filed months ago with tests and stuff being done years before that. It's been less then a week since Obama took office and I doubt that is enough time to submit, review, qualify and approve something with the FDA.

    If you need to cheer something, cheer private industry that didn't sit around waiting for the government to hand them money to get what they wanted to do done. Hurray for capitalism and private charity.

  • Re:Political BS (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2009 @04:11PM (#26579767)
    It's like the lament that MTV doesn't play music videos anymore....political activists have turned digg and, to a lesser degree, slashdot into their soap boxes. And they'll never be the same again.
  • Re:About time (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2009 @04:21PM (#26579981)


    It requires a lot of time and money to find another way to do something we already know how to do. So whether adult stem cells will amount to something or not, we spent several years doing very little else.

    However long it takes for the treatments to come to market, wouldn't it have been a lot nicer for them to come to market five years earlier?

  • by pcolaman ( 1208838 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @04:26PM (#26580057)

    I'd mod you if I had the points, but this will have to do. I have found it hilarious how many people blame Bush for the problems with our economy (blame him for the mistakes in Iraq, that's legit) when in fact the Democrats, going all the way back to Clinton, are the ones who have put us in this mess.

    I will blame the Republican majority in the House and Senate in the 90's and early this decade for not doing something about it, although admittedly they did try a few times to fix it (McCain among others). However, apparently they didn't try hard enough. People talk of wanting Bush to get tried for war crimes, but in my opinion it's people like Barnie Frank who should be impeached or recalled for willful disregard when it comes to oversight of the housing market, chiefly as it concerns Fannie and Freddie.

    It has been made crystal clear that the stimulus package, while having saved the credit industry from collapse, did little good other than to keep the majority of major banks from folding. Lending has not increased but instead continues to retract, and there is no evidence that supports the big three auto makers avoiding collapse as well (other than possibly Ford, assuming their sales recover). The handling of the economy and in particular spending has been an absolute joke over the past 4 years, and while people would love nothing better than to blame Bush, who submits yearly budgets, it is Congress, who approves the budget, who should really be at the forefront of blame. Republicans lost their mandate due to the handling of the war in Iraq. Unfortunately, most voters are too dumb to realize that the other party, the Democrats, were as clueless on the housing and credit crisis as the Republicans were on fighting a lengthy conflict in the middle east. If we only had more people who cared about the economy and the government's incompetency in managing it's duties, both parties would've been ejected from office and we'd have gotten a few more forward lookers in Washington. Too bad that'll never happen in my lifetime.

    How ironic is it that Iraq eventually turned around, whereas we're just beginning to really see the seams crack in our economy?

  • Re:About time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BigDukeSix ( 832501 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @04:31PM (#26580147)

    There is a common belief that embryonic stem cells, because they have the potential to differentiate into any cell line instead of just one or two, are somehow "better" than the other myriad types of cells. This ignores the fact that it's much harder to stop ESCs from continuing to differentiate, which is why you get tumors at an alarming rate.

    This is in turn rooted in another common incorrect notion, namely that stem cells repair injury by differentiating into new cells and tissue. The first decade of research in this field has largely disproved this notion. Instead, stem cells seem to alter the host response to injury, such that normal repair mechanisms function much more effectively. Stem cells tend to get stuck in the lungs when given intravenously, but still result in improved repair at remote sites; conversely, after direct injection of cells into a site of injury, most of those cells are someplace else in the body after 24 hours.

    This is why the Geron trial is limited to spinal cord injuries that are less than two weeks old. Once scar formation has occurred, this therapeutic target is gone, and there is currently no notion of how to truly "reconstruct" a spinal cord in a long-standing paraplegic patient.

  • Re:Political BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KeithJM ( 1024071 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @04:37PM (#26580267) Homepage

    Bush disallowed GOVERNMENT funding of new cell lines, not private funding.

    Bush actually disallowed any lab which receives government funding from doing research with new stem cell lines. That effectively meant that private funding didn't just have to pay for the research, but BUILDING AN IDENTICAL LAB for any university or organization that had a single government research grant.

  • Re:Shame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pcolaman ( 1208838 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @04:48PM (#26580485)

    Let me also mention that ALL stem cell research requires the destruction of life. A stem cell, whether embryonic or adult, is alive.

    You are twisting the debate of the use of embryonic stem cells. It has nothing to do with objections over the destruction of the stem cells, it is how they are derived. All cells derived from humans are alive at some point, but the objection from many over using embryonic stem cells for research is the fact that they come from aborted people. As far as I'm concerned, that's what they are once they have a heartbeat. That fetus is then no longer just a fetus, but a human being. The debate to whether abortion is morally right is another argument for another time, but don't make this into an argument of whether using embryonic or adult stem cells are the same thing, because they are not. An adult willingly allows the use of their stem cells for research, whereas an unborn infant cannot make that decision.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @09:35PM (#26584255)
    So you are saying that adult stem cells are not as useful to treat health problems as embryonic stem cells? If that is the case, why are there treatments already in use that use adult stem cells, but this is the first clinical trial using embryonic stem cells?

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