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Biotech Medicine Science

Medical Milestone: Scientists Reset Human Stem Cells 75

SternisheFan sends news that researchers from the University of Cambridge have made a breakthrough in the production of human pluripotent stem cells. The goal when developing this kind of stem cell is to have them as early in the cell's lifecycle as possible, so that they're more like true embryonic stem cells and can fulfill whatever role is needed. But all of them made so far are advanced slightly down their developmental pathway. The new work, published in the journal Cell (abstract), has found a way to "reset" the cells by introducing two genes that induce a developmental "ground state."
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Medical Milestone: Scientists Reset Human Stem Cells

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  • hoooray (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The 1%ers will be biologically immortal! Nothing will stop them from hoarding the entire money supply for themselves! NOTHING!

    • Re:hoooray (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @05:48AM (#47896189)

      What affects the 1%ers today will affect the 99%ers tomorrow. This was true for Electric Light and phones in cars, and will be true for imortality.

      • Re:hoooray (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Idou ( 572394 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @09:03AM (#47896551) Journal
        This is absolutely right, and I would go further to say that this kind of technology cannot be perfected without mass adoption. For instance, there is priceless value to the smart phone industry of having billions of "testers," an expansive variety of users that drives a healthy community of app developers, and a high enough density of adoption to justify wireless infrastructure investment. In the end, the economic value of the combined smart-phone user base is probably many times more than whatever resources the 1%ers could pool together to invent a technology that only they would use.

        Now, consider the fact that medical treatment carries significantly more intrinsic risk to the user than smart-phone usage (though user born risk varies. . .), and it is hard to see why 1%ers would try to monopolize this technology. On the contrary, I think any rational person with significant wealth and interest would invest in ways to bring this technology to a large enough population in order to ensure related treatments could be confirmed safe at a statistical level.
      • The technologies you cite are not primarily medical in nature. Consider how prohibitively expensive medicine is these days. It's one of the leading causes of bankruptcy problems. The original argument of it being out-of-reach for the average joe still is valid.
      • What affects the 1%ers today will affect the 99%ers tomorrow. This was true for Electric Light and phones in cars, and will be true for imortality.

        What about trickle down economics? While it has surely affected the 99-percenters, it was hardly in a positive way. Not everything that benefits the wealthy makes its way to the common person.

        • What affects the 1%ers today will affect the 99%ers tomorrow. This was true for Electric Light and phones in cars, and will be true for imortality.

          What about trickle down economics? While it has surely affected the 99-percenters, it was hardly in a positive way. Not everything that benefits the wealthy makes its way to the common person.

          Trickle-Down Economics (n)
          1. A (repeatedly) failed economic policy (sometimes referred to as Supply-Side) which posits that increasing wealth at the top of the socioeconomic ladder will increase wealth at all socioeconomic levels, i.e., the wealth will "trickle down" and raise everyone up.;
          2. A poorly constructed lie stating that giving more to those who have the most will somehow make those with less (or nothing) better off;
          3. Pissing on the poor;

          • I can see that someone lied to you. That's probably a sign that a lot of people have and you believed them.

            The trickle down theory simply purports that the best way to increase the condition of the poor is to improve the economy so they have more opportunities and a common theme in achieving this is to lower taxes in order to allow more capitol investment in areas that would improve the economy. Contrary to popular belief, lowing taxes across the board is simply just that. It is not a gift to the wealthy, i

            • I can see that someone lied to you. That's probably a sign that a lot of people have and you believed them.

              The trickle down theory simply purports that the best way to increase the condition of the poor is to improve the economy so they have more opportunities and a common theme in achieving this is to lower taxes in order to allow more capitol investment in areas that would improve the economy. Contrary to popular belief, lowing taxes across the board is simply just that. It is not a gift to the wealthy, it is not a foot on the back of the poor, it is lowering taxes and its impact generally ends in more investment that create more jobs. Yes, the rich get richer but that happens without it.

              But be a good little liberal and don't believe me or bother thinking for yourself. I mean how many poor people have given you a job that you could live from? Some people simply have to have more money than others and if you take all of it from them, they will not be creating jobs. It is the factual economic reality we live in. Until such time the government mandates people will work somewhere and receive whatever pay they declare valid, we will have to rely on people with money creating jobs. Its really that simple to anyone but liberals and communists.

              I've seen "supply-side" economics in action, and it doesn't work. Well, not for the neediest, at least. You can call me whatever names you want, but I'm neither a "liberal" nor a "communist." I find it amusing that you didn't seem to notice that overall employment and wages have stagnated or declined since the supply-siders started implementing their policies.

              Hayek and Friedman were wrong. That's not to say that Keynes was right about everything either. Higher wages and progressive income (or, potentia

              • 've seen "supply-side" economics in action, and it doesn't work. Well, not for the neediest, at least. You can call me whatever names you want, but I'm neither a "liberal" nor a "communist." I find it amusing that you didn't seem to notice that overall employment and wages have stagnated or declined since the supply-siders started implementing their policies.

                Umm.. I will call you delusional then. And you are somewhat naive if you think supply side and trickle down are connected to the state of employment or

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I can understand the cynicism , but allow the early adopters to pay the extremely high prices so that better and better, less expensive versions and techniques can be made.

      The amazing thing about nature, it will always find a way to kill you! Sooner or later she's going to get you. Appreciate the beauty :-)
      • This is true; however, 1%ers have a particularly strong need for exclusivity. The desire for power and the politics of scarcity are permanent features of the human condition, so you can bet there will be a "bio barrier" in the future as there is a "digital divide" today.
      • Re: hoooray (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13, 2014 @10:06AM (#47896733)

        The amazing thing about nature, it will always find a way to kill you! Sooner or later she's going to get you. Appreciate the beauty :-)

        I don't "appreciate the beauty" of cancer, alzheimers, stroke, dementia or any of the other similarly horrendous ways that nature kills people. It seems to me that many people develop a form of bizarre Stockolm Syndrome when they confront the horrors of disease. I suppose the horrors are too harsh to face. This bizarre form of celebrating suffering and death seems particulaly concentrated on the diseases of aging, likely due to the fact that modern medicine has managed to dramatically reduce the threat from diseases not associated with aging (e.g. infectious diseases.) With the greatly reduced threat from these non-age-related diseases, the psychological defensiveness that leads to the perverse celebration of suffering doesn't have the same impetus to emerge as it does with the still ongoing threats (ie disease and death caused by aging)

        As someone who has managed to avoid this defensive Stockolm syndrome mentality, I see that the real beauty is in humanity developing technology that eliminates the blind cruel amoral causes of suffering that nature has plagued humanity with for millenia. I welcome the beautiful technology of regenerative medicine, the end of disease and the suffering of aging, and hopefully this latest breakthrough speeds its realization and deployment.

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          And best of all, natural selection will swiftly favor people with your attitude. Those who celebrate death and suffering will go the way of the Neanderthal. Good riddance.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Okay, from what I understand (perhaps incorrectly): the major difference between pluripotent and embryonic stem cells is that embryonic can differentiate into placenta as well as body cells, whereas pluripotent are committed to body cell lines only.

    If that's true, what's the goal of going all the way to embryonic? Are placenta cell lines in high demand for therapy?

    • However, scientists have struggled to generate human pluripotent stem cells that are truly pristine (also known as naïve). Instead, researchers have only been able to derive cells which have advanced slightly further down the developmental pathway. These bear some of the early hallmarks of differentiation into distinct cell types – they’re not a truly ‘blank slate’. This may explain why existing human pluripotent stem cell lines often exhibit a bias towards producing certain tissue types in the laboratory.

      Taken from the article. Basically, even if they shouldn't show any bias towards the kinds of cells they'll transform into they still do, and that's why the need for true placenta.

  • by justcauseisjustthat ( 1150803 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @06:31AM (#47896259)
    I love seeing these breakthroughs! But it's time to start making some jumps in the real world applications. I would pay $5k right now to get get rid of my presbyopia and myopia, hell, maybe even $10k if I had a guarantee of 20-30 yrs (free updates).
    • I love seeing these breakthroughs! But it's time to start making some jumps in the real world applications. I would pay $5k right now to get get rid of my presbyopia and myopia, hell, maybe even $10k if I had a guarantee of 20-30 yrs (free updates).

      When the medical industry has a product that's along the lines of "Take this if you want to live" It's generally $10k per year after their marketing and product development gets hold of it. Take a look at AZT in the 1980s for example.

    • If you're gladly willing to pay $10k, the price will be $75K.
  • Milestone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @06:33AM (#47896263)

    For calling a scientific advancement a milestone you need to be either really sure, or have a bloating press. Einstein's theory wasn't regarded as "milestone" until the solar eclipse 1919. Are they already really sure yet?

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      More than just that. One of the causes of aging appears to be "tired mitochondria". So you need to make sure that the mitochondira of the cell line is in good shape. Difficult, as (AFAIK) we don't know how to tell when mitochondria aren't acting efficiently in a single cell, only in an organ. And mitochondria are subject to a high rate of mutation, so if you grow a clone*, you want to ensure that all cells in that clone have efficient mitochondria.

      *A clone is a cluster of cells grown from a single cell.

      • What has always puzzled me was how all this mitosis-invariant ageing isn't a concern in the germ line [wikipedia.org].

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Most embryos die within the first few days. Nobody notices, but I expect that it cleans out the "mitosis-invariant ageing".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Fingers crossed, but past experience isn't encouraging.

  • ... before we find out the results were made up? Is there some reproducibility happening here? Just sayin'

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 ( 1400425 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @08:24AM (#47896439)
    Since you know, righties hate stem cell research and lefties hate genetic engineering. (Which this apparently uses when they insert a couple of genes. Yeah, I'm cynical so go ahead and mod me down.)
    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Well, you should be modded down as flamebait, but that doesn't seem to have happened. I don't notice anything useful in your comment.

      Of course, you may be a troll, in which case shame on me for responding. But I wasn't even nearly the first, so I don't feel too bad.

  • Replacement Organs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by old_kennyp ( 949607 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @08:44AM (#47896503)

    I would love to know if and when this sort of research will be able to provide replacement organs for those in need.
    My Wife had Kidney failure 14 years ago, and receive a family members kidney 4 years later. The cost and problems associated with anti rejection drugs, although minor compared to Dialysis, do take their toll.
    I am dreading the day the current kidney fails and as it health is slowly declining, that will be sometime in the next 10 years probably

    To be able to have a new kidney created from her own cells would negate the need to most of those drugs and the associated issues with them. To me it would be work $10 - 20k to have one made

    • by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @09:12AM (#47896575)

      It will be a lot more expensive than that. Harvesting from a donor means using a "free" kidney. Free in that no one had to be paid to make it. Here are some prices of dissimilar items:

      I work with several biomedical companies. A simple metal part can cost $10k. And that's not gouging. Getting that metal part to clinical trials took millions of dollars and 15 years. The amount of testing and paperwork are outrageous. But easier to make than a kidney.

      An artificial leg for above the knee amputation can cost $50k and up. Those guys are gouging. But easier to make than a kidney.

      I would expect a lab grown kidney to go for $50k-$100k, not including implantation costs. And that's IF they figure out a cheap way to make them.

      And ironically, your wife would probably be denied insurance coverage for it. Because she already has a kidney.

      (On a related side note, I worked on a non-sterile dialysis system that was so cheap, we couldn't figure out how to make money from it. A few hundred bucks a year, could be done at home, 0% risk of infection. We donated the research and $100k to a research hospital.)

      • Thanks. I realise the cost to produce may well be above what I mentioned and as In Australia we are very lucky to have the top class facilities available to us here for largely free ( medicare pick up most of the bill), but hope that one day a replace can be created, and they people in need will be able to get them.
        The cost of home Dialysis here is also a stupid cost, and the infrastructure to support it may well ( hopefully ) make it attractive to invest in this sort of development.

        It is interesting about

        • Sorry, but we never published. The original work was 70 years old, so a bit hard to find online. But I can describe it.

          We called it intestinal dialysis. In the early 20th century, there was research on 3 kinds of dialysis: hemo, peritoneal, and intestinal. Hemo made the first breakthrough. The others were forgotten until peritoneal was reexamined in the 80's.

          If you google intestinal dialysis, you'll find something distantly related to the old research and what we worked with. But very different. We f

          • What an awesome concept thanks.
            Pity it did not develop further as both Hemo and Peritoneal are both quite invasive !

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        (On a related side note, I worked on a non-sterile dialysis system that was so cheap, we couldn't figure out how to make money from it. A few hundred bucks a year, could be done at home, 0% risk of infection. We donated the research and $100k to a research hospital.)

        That sounds like a very good reason not to leave healthcare to capitalism. Truly a case of defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

        • Sorry to rain on that thought, but it was a capitalist company that spent $250k doing research that from day 1 they weren't sure would make money. Then when they decided it wasn't a good fit, donated the research and some money to a non-profit institution. Trying to snatch victory form the jaws of defeat.

          As far as I can tell, the government supported non-profit took the money and never did anything at all. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of government funded organizations.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            I would need to know more about the non-profit (they're not all the same). Why not donate the idea to the public domain and publish the whole thing?

            • The reason we couldn't make money is that it is published and is in the public domain.

              The non-profit is a pediatric research hospital. Traditional dialysis doesn't work well on small children, so they were interested.

              • by sjames ( 1099 )

                So it was, in fact, developed by a non-capitalist system? Can you give me the title of the publication, I'd like to look it up.

                • Active work was done the 1920's to 1930's. Accidental discoveries were made even decades later. There are over 100 different citations in as many publications. I wouldn't even be able to recall one of them. And you'd be hard pressed to access the publications.

                  If you want to claim that development was done by a non-capitalist system (which is a weird statement for other reasons), then you'd find they eff'ed it up big-time. They figured out bits and pieces but neglected to optimize, make it patient frien

                  • by sjames ( 1099 )

                    So it's public domain, used by thousands but you can't say what it is and I couldn't possibly read about it? Not even a little hint?

                    Is it in Dan Brown's next novel by chance? You realize you make the whole thread sound like 'beef by-products', yes?

                    • Oh, I'd be happy to point you in the right direction if I could. But this was 13 years ago. All I read were excerpts and summaries from dozens of old medical journals in half a dozen countries. I was the engineer, not the guy searching old archives, so didn't pay any attention to where the stuff was published. Heck, I've searched for information since, and can barely find anything useful. The only thing I found even related was through a link in Wikipedia: http://www.medscape.com/medlin... [medscape.com]

                      Scattered in

                    • by sjames ( 1099 )

                      Interestingly, your brief description of the method was enough to google up a heap of research on Google.

                      Since you said non-sterile and mentioned surgery, I'll guess this is isolated intestinal loop dialysis?

                      What was the improvement?

                    • Bingo. You seem to have done a better job of choosing key words for searches than I did. I'm also in Asia at the moment, which sends the search engines off on odd tangents.

                      It was pretty incremental improvement. Just a pair of ostomies. Stick a hose in each end and flush with dialysate. It doesn't sound like much, but solved a couple problems. We also had a pretty refined formulate (I can't recall details). But it was simpler to make than baking a cake. Mostly manitol and some salts to control ion flo

                    • by sjames ( 1099 )

                      I appreciate the offer, but I'm really not qualified. My interest is of the avid armchair variety. As I understand it, the dialysate is the key to making it work. Previous experiments achieved some removal of urea but it wasn't adequate or it caused electrolyte imbalances. In all forms of dialysis, it's something that could easily be mixed up at home but for the requirement of a sterile solution for hemo or peritoneal dialysis.

  • Thank God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @08:55AM (#47896533)
    If this technology can become common place the suffering of the multitudes could be greatly reduced. I don't have a clue as to how many chronic diseases might be eliminated but I suspect that many diseases could be eliminated in the afflicted. For example can we roll back the clock for a person afflicted with Parkinson's disease to a time before the disease expressed itself in the patient? Think what that could mean for people like Michael J. Fox and many millions of folks.
  • There is a reason why we die.

    It is the very fact, human beings are essentially evil if left to their own devices.

    The worst possible outcome is human beings living longer for no other reason except to continue our evil ways.

    Something has to change, and it isn't found in simply changing our DNA.

  • Can it be used to CURE Cancer?

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