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Embryonic Stem Cell Retinal Implants Seem Safe, So Far 91

An anonymous reader writes "A biotechnology company said Monday that results from the world's first human trial using embryonic stem cells to treat eye diseases suggested that the new procedure appears to be safe four months after the cells were injected into the eyes of two blind patients. The study also describes visual improvements in patients, and experts said the findings hold promise for treating blindness in patients with currently incurable conditions like age-related macular degeneration in older patients and Stargardt's Disease, a main cause of blindness in young people."
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Embryonic Stem Cell Retinal Implants Seem Safe, So Far

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  • Re:Can You Imagine? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @03:30PM (#38809321)

    Many of the ethical concerns over embryonic cells would be ended if the collection method was nondestructive.

    The problem was hamfisted legislation that treats embryonic blast collection as being equal to murdering babies.

    There are single cell extraction techniques which allow cells to be nondestructively collected. This process is used in screening for ivf, prior to embryo selection. (This is how they pick only safe embryos, and not ones likely to produce children with developmental disorders.)

    I would rather see legislation prohibiting destructive collection, than against any collection at all.

    The issue here, is that we have cells previously collected using the destructive methods prior to the moratorium sitting in freezers, when those tissues could be used for fundamental research.

    It is my understanding that demand for these lines is high, as many cultures were co-cultured with mouse tissue for purposes of expediency. This limits the number of "purely human" cultures that are suitale for medical research to a much smaller subset of the already limited cell lines available. (Note, the mouse contaminated lines are not genetically blended. They are just heterogenous.)

    What I would personally like to see is an end to the moratorium on federal funding for embryonic cells, with the provision that all NEW lines be derived nondestructively.

    Doing that would radically reduce the ethical concerns surrounding their use.

    Our ability to create, use, and evaluate adult stemcells is directly tied to the fundamental research done with embryonic ones.

    However, I don't support your position on unfettered research. To me that opens far too big of a pandora's box into the realm of public health. Oversight and good proceedure are vital to good research.

  • by Garridan ( 597129 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @06:26PM (#38811921)
    "Drawing a line" is a bit of a straw man. We're talking about hours after conception, not weeks. At this point in time, the cells are indistinguishable from one another. A featureless blob of cells.

    I, too, reject the notion that at some magical instant, the embryo becomes a fetus. It's a very gradual process, in the first few hours of which, you've definitely got a lump of undistinguished cells, and 9 months later, you've definitely got a living thing (assuming everything goes ok). There's a lot of grey area, and drawing a line is a vast oversimplification.

    Fact of the matter is, we're talking about embryos that are slated for destruction. We're talking about preserving those to save / better future lives. We aren't going around harvesting fetuses.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith