Dr. Maureen Condic explains why reprogrammed stem cells are not embryos – an “organism” is organized.
Totipotent zygotes are distinct from pluripotent or even plenipotent stem cells because they undergo development. The ability to both produce all cell types and to organize them into a coherent body plan is the defining feature of a totipotent human organism.
Update: The original article by Dr. Condic is available by pdf at http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/scd.2013.0364
Hat Tip to the bioethics newsletter, BioEdge, and Michael Cook http://www.bioedge.org/index.php/bioethics/bioethics_article/10888
This is a wonderful story. I’m very glad for the Representative and for all the patients who receive their own stem cells and have good results. (My granddaughter, at 15 months old in 2001, received an anonymous little boy’s umbilical cord blood after her bone marrow completely failed. More here.)
Someday, I believe we’ll find the stimulating factors that make the body’s stem cells activate the way we want them. In the meantime, this is what our researchers – and Legislators – are finding out about ethical adult stem cells (not destructive embryonic stem cells.:
State Rep. Rick Hardcastle, R-Vernon, participated in a recent round of autologous adult stem cell treatments to help his multiple sclerosis, similar to what Gov. Rick Perry had done in July.
Although the stem cells are not embryonic, doctors in the U.S. are still skeptical of the procedure because it is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Adult stem cells are taken from the patient’s fat, sent to a lab where they are developed, then reintroduced to the patient via intravenous therapy.
The treatments are used to treat patients with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Hardcastle was diagnosed with MS almost 10 years ago and repeatedly said the treatments worked phenomenally for him.
“I’m walking on water and near bulletproof,” Hardcastle said from a casino in Las Vegas, where he was with his wife for the National Finals Rodeo. “Since I had the third treatment, I have fished in the river in Alaska. I have walked up and down stairs without having to hold onto the handrail like a goon. It’s just been phenomenal so far.”
Hardcastle said just having his balance is an amazing thing because since he was diagnosed, his balance was one of the first things to go. He spoke at length about how easily he was able to walk the stairs at the Las Vegas event.
“Eight years ago, I was having to literally … stop to step over a concrete barrier on a parking curb. I just walk across it now like I did 20 years ago,” he said.
Universal Truth at work again. I would have loved to be there in order to watch heads explode and hear the susurus of “Did he say that?” buzzing around the room.
Newer and safer forms of stem cell therapy will likely overtake research into the use of human embryonic stem cells, the scientist whose team cloned Dolly the sheep told his peers at a stem cell conference in La Jolla.
Direct “reprogramming” of adult cells into the type needed for therapy is gradually becoming a reality, Ian Wilmut told an audience of several hundred at the Salk Institute at the annual Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa. Such a feat was once thought impossible, but in recent years it has been demonstrated in at least two publications, he said.
But it’s been unclear which types of stem cells would prove most useful: the “adult” kind that have a more limited potential to change, or the embryonic kind. The emergence of direct reprogramming provides a promising new option scientists should consider, Wilmut said.
“I’m not quite sure why this hasn’t been pursued more actively,” Wilmut said.
It is difficult to achieve purity in embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells because they are prone to forming tumors.
Direct reprogramming of cells from one type to the other avoids that danger, because the cells never enter the pluripotent stage to begin with, Wilmut said.
Direct cell reprogramming didn’t exist when California voters approved the stem cell program in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71. That program was mainly aimed at funding embryonic stem cell research the federal government wouldn’t fund.
However, the program can also fund research with other types of stem cells, such as “adult” cells from umbilical cord blood.
The use and value of embryonic stem cells is an intensely controversial issue.
Many people object to their use because human embryos, which they consider human individuals, are killed to get the cells. Critics also point to the success of adult cells in approved therapies, while no therapy with embryonic stem cells has yet been approved.
Only one treatment with embryonic stem cells is in clinical testing in people. And that company, Geron Corp., recently ended its involvement in what was described as a business decision.
Yeah, Daley destroys human embryos to harvest stem cells, even made a few designer embryos with the intention of destroying them. The International Stem Cell Research group fawned all over the faux Korean cloner.
These people to be have no business talking about ethics or “wise decisions.”
[S]ome scientists are questioning the safety and wisdom of Perry’s treatment, especially because it was not part of a clinical trial in which unproven therapies are tested in a way that helps protect patients and advances medical knowledge.
Perry “exercised poor judgment’’ to try it, said Dr. George Q. Daley of Children’s Hospital Boston and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. “As a highly influential person of power, Perry’s actions have the unfortunate potential to push desperate patients into the clinics of quacks’’ who are selling unproven treatments “for everything from Alzheimer’s to autism.’’
Daley is past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, a group of 3,000 scientists and others in the field. He favors stem cell research. But of Perry’s treatment he said: “I would never in a million years accept for one of my family members to undergo this.’’