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Stem Cell Therapy Causes Tumors 327

Posted by kdawson
from the too-good-to-be-true dept.
SpaceAdmiral writes, "Using human embryonic stem cells, researchers have cured a Parkinson's-like disease in rats. Unfortunately, the Parkinson's cure causes brain tumors." From the first article: "...10 weeks into the trial, [University of Rochester researchers] discovered brain tumours had begun to grow in every animal treated... By definition, human embryonic stem cells have the almost mythical, immortal power to grow and divide indefinitely as they become the various tissues that make up the body. As a result, scientists have always known that any stem cell therapy could result in an uncontrolled growth of cells that could give rise to cancer."
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Stem Cell Therapy Causes Tumors

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  • Tumors? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jhon (241832) * on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:06PM (#16553462) Homepage Journal
    Why not use adult stem cells [senate.gov]? There also the cord blood [cordblood.com] research to add in, as well. So far, all the research I've been reading suggest these to be the best direction to take and such research is funded at the federal level. And as a bonus, has no real ethics baggage associated with it!
    • Re:Tumors? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:11PM (#16553510) Homepage Journal
      However, the same problem still exists- to use tissue from even adult stem cells, you have to accellerate their growth in an appropriate growth medium. Fail to stop that accellerated growth before implantation yeilds cancer. In fact, cancer is a good description of what you do to stem cells to begin with- encourage them to grow as different parts of the organism they came from, hopefully in a benign, controlled manner, but sometimes in a malignant uncontrolled manner.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Darlantan (130471)
        I'm inclined to agree.

        This experiment proves that stem cells can be used to cure disease, but it also demonstrates that we lack the control required to put them into use. The real trick here isn't convincing stem cells to become X other cell, it's convincing them to _stop_ doing their thing at the correct time. Otherwise cancer is the inevitable outcome.
        • Re:Tumors? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Jhon (241832) * on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:23PM (#16553642) Homepage Journal
          This experiment proves that stem cells can be used to cure disease
          No it didn't. This experiment shows what has LONG been established -- that stem cells (embryonic, in this case) can be used to TREAT diseases. There are in fact already TREATMENTS for several diseases that utilize stem cells -- virtually ALL either adult stem cells from the patient themself or donor cord blood stem cells.

          What this experiment ALSO shows is the difficulty in using EMBRYONIC stem cells in that they often (and EVERY instance in this experiment) lead to uncontrolled growth (read CANCER).
          • Bullshit. (Score:3, Informative)

            by billybob_jcv (967047)
            Type 1 Diabetes, also known as Juvenile-Onset Diabetes currently has no cure, and stem cell research is currently the best hope. Testing blood glucose levels through finger sticks and taking insulin through multiple shots per day or an insulin pump is a poor treatment - with many long-term side effects and the chance EVERYDAY of having a low-blood glucose episode that may cause lose of consciousness and/or seizures. 1 in 600 kids worldwide develop Type 1 Diabetes and they did NOTHING to cause it - which m
            • Re:Bullshit. (Score:5, Interesting)

              by gewalker (57809) <.moc.latigiDartsA. .ta. .reklaW.yraG.> on Monday October 23, 2006 @09:56PM (#16554998)
              Maybe you should actually read science instead of press releases from the pro-embryonic stell cell lobby. They keep saying there is much promise, but the actual effective treatments have been based on adult stem cells. This may not always be the case, but it certainly is today

              The only proven effective Type-1 diabetes cure, in mice was based on adult-stems cells -- just like what several other posters have been saying. This article [harvard.edu] refers to lab results where they reversed Type in mice, using ADULT not EMBRYONIC stems cells. This is not Christian pro-life lobby rantings.

              You are right in saying it is not a Type I cure for humans (yet), but it is certainly promising.

              BTW, No Type II cures based on stem cells have published to my knowledge.

              In many ways, I could care less about adult vs. embryonic cell research in the U.S. (there are other countries you know). But as a U.S. Taxpayer, I would prefer not to have my tax dollars wasted on research that has to date proved useless when there is similar alternative that has been proved quite fruitful to date. Gov. Arnie bought the b.s. re: embryonic stem cells -- I would bet that California taxpayers see nothing useful coming out of it when the money is all spent.
              • by gewalker (57809)
                Sorry, screwed up.

                I should have mentioned that there is supposed to be a clinical trial starting in Florida based on cord blood. This also reflects the current successes in stem cell research.

                Yeah, embryonic stem cells research may pay out some day, but most certainly not yet.
          • by eonlabs (921625)
            This would be less of an issue if more strains of stem cells were available for research. The more that people have to work with, the less people run into special cases where a single strain of cell just happens to work better than the rest, or overlook the usefulness completely.

            Haven't people been working with stemcells successfully?
            Is this one clinical trial that just exploded because of some level of carelessness?
      • Re:Tumors? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Jhon (241832) * on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:18PM (#16553590) Homepage Journal
        to use tissue from even adult stem cells, you have to accelerate their growth in an appropriate growth medium
        Accelerate? Why? Whereas this "accelerated growth" natural for embryonic stem cells, and VERY much unwanted, in adult stem cells, are less likely to give rise to the uncontrolled growth seen with embryonic stem cells. At least, so I've read...
        • Accelerate? Why? Whereas this "accelerated growth" natural for embryonic stem cells, and VERY much unwanted, in adult stem cells, are less likely to give rise to the uncontrolled growth seen with embryonic stem cells. At least, so I've read...

          The whole key to the use of stem cells (adult, embryonic, or cord blood) is that you need to get the cells to divide and grow into the tissue you want. Without the cell division, without the accelerated growth, the stem cell implantation won't do anything at all for
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by The_Wilschon (782534)

          Whereas this "accelerated growth" natural for embryonic stem cells, and VERY much unwanted, in adult stem cells, are less likely to give rise to the uncontrolled growth seen with embryonic stem cells.

          I'm not normally a grammar nazi, but that sentence was so borked that I cannot understand it. Well, with sufficient work, I might be able to puzzle out what you meant. But I'm tired and it is not worth that much work. The amount of work required would almost certainly be more than that required to post a re

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by blitz77 (518316)
            What he's basically explaining comes down to the essential differences between embryonic and adult stem cells. Embyronic stem cells are what are known as 'totipotent' - they can differentiate into any kind of cell in the human body. Adult stem cells are 'pleuripotent' - they can differentiate into a limited number of cell types (or even just one kind).This difference is due to the fact that these pleuripotent cells are already somewhat down the differentiation process. However there is also another major d
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by xant (99438)
              I'm not an expert in the subject, but if what you say is true doesn't that mean adult stem cells can only be used in applications where linear, rather than geometric tissue growth is an acceptable speed? Which means only very, very small structures. If I wanted to repair, say, a million damaged spinal cord cells I'd need to wait for a a million stem cell divisions, no? That would take a very long time.

              I am honestly speaking from ignorance here so please correct me if I'm wrong. I always thought geometri
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Chosen Reject (842143)
        It's not cancer! It's the early stages of the rats turning into humans!

        Oh the humanity!
      • by Goblez (928516)
        So question is, what 'controls' or tells the cells when to start and stop? I would hope this is a question being asked, because it would seem to this simple geek that the answer to that would both unlock the usage of stem/cord/etc cells and perhaps aid in stopping cancer (when cells decide to go haywire).
        • Re:Tumors? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Monday October 23, 2006 @08:10PM (#16554176) Homepage Journal
          So question is, what 'controls' or tells the cells when to start and stop? I would hope this is a question being asked, because it would seem to this simple geek that the answer to that would both unlock the usage of stem/cord/etc cells and perhaps aid in stopping cancer (when cells decide to go haywire).

          Yep- that's the primary area of stem cell research today. How to get them to start, how to get them to stop, how to control what they turn into. And it's not one solution; different target tissues with different starting stem cells seem to require different growth and stopping solutions. And even then, the research is young- we can't be 100% sure.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I am pretty sure that your suggestions have occured to them and for whatever reason won''t work. Generally speaking scientist don't reject more money because they want to work on projects that have more political turmoil.
    • As I recall, it's more complex than simply using alternative sources, but alternatives do need to be found as any widespread stem cell therapy would need a much broader source than you can possibly get from the excess embryos left over from fertility treatments.
    • Re:Tumors? (Score:5, Funny)

      by WilliamSChips (793741) <full.infinity@g m a i l . c om> on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:28PM (#16553708) Journal
      Because the problem still remains--research causes cancer in rats.
    • Re:Tumors? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:30PM (#16553728) Homepage

      such research is funded at the federal level.

      Speaking as a European, I can safely say, so what?

      • Re:Tumors? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jhon (241832) * on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:37PM (#16553826) Homepage Journal
        Speaking as a European, I can safely say, so what?
        Speaking as an American, "embryonic" stem cell research is one of those polarizing issues (like abortion) which at worst is ripping apart our nation and at best is keeping our representatives from cooperating with each other on the MUNDANE tasks of government because they are so busy stroking their respective constituencies passion with such hot-button issues
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Speaking as an American, "embryonic" stem cell research is one of those polarizing issues (like abortion) which at worst is ripping apart our nation and at best is keeping our representatives from cooperating with each other on the MUNDANE tasks of government because they are so busy stroking their respective constituencies passion with such hot-button issues

          Okay. My point was, the rest of the world is zipping merrily ahead while the US sits and debates politics and/or religion, and turns good science i

          • Re:Tumors? (Score:5, Funny)

            by capiCrimm (921029) on Monday October 23, 2006 @08:10PM (#16554182)
            (in crayon)

            Dear Mr. Meanie Guy,

            Do be so mean. We can kill you.
          • Okay. My point was, the rest of the world is zipping merrily ahead while the US sits and debates politics and/or religion, and turns good science into another chess piece. Better sort it out quick or you'll be left too far behind to catch up!

            Except California, you mean? So Caltech and Berkeley are still doing fine.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ArcherB (796902)
            Okay. My point was, the rest of the world is zipping merrily ahead while the US sits and debates politics and/or religion, and turns good science into another chess piece. Better sort it out quick or you'll be left too far behind to catch up!

            I think you and many others here are missing the point.

            First of all, there is no law against embryonic stem cell research in the US. All the current Prez did was fund research for existing stem cell lines from embryos and other sources (adult and chord blood stem cells
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by evilviper (135110)
            Better sort it out quick or you'll be left too far behind to catch up!

            You're assuming that there's something there to begin with... Embryonic stem-cell research could well be a dead-end, resulting in no viable treatments.

            It's also strange that you categorize it as if it is a race... Europeans aren't going to find some magical cure and keep it to themselves. If European scientists develop something before the US, good for them. It would be a nice change.
        • More like, it's an issue that has been CREATED so that politicians don't have to face the tough questions of our day, like what the heck we're still doing in Iraq. If you can't tell that this (along with immigration) are issues that were cooked up as distractions, then it's working on you.
    • There's no ethical baggage with most foetal stem cells either. Unless, of course, you subscribe to the crazy notion that life begins before preganancy...
      • by timeOday (582209)

        Unless, of course, you subscribe to the crazy notion that life begins before preganancy...

        In addition to defining when life begins, I think some people are uncomfortable playing with the building blocks of life like so many tinker toys - designer children, genetic improvements for the rich, eliminating the biological need for traditional families, etc. You can disagree, but you have to admit there are huge ramifications for (global) society. Birth control itself has had huge ramifications, from the em

    • by Swift2001 (874553)
      Because you only read the Creationist Genetics Journal. I myself see no ethical concern here. But you can disregard the views of non-Christians, agnostics, atheists, or anybody you want.

      There have been lots of false starts in any field of medicine. Don't forget, Pasteur saved the boy from rabies only by taking an enormous ethical risk. Marie Curie died from radiation poisoning.

      If adult stem cells can be used, that's fine. If stem cells from embryos have to be used, that's fine with me, too.

      It did cure the p
      • Re:Tumors? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gkhan1 (886823) <oskarsigvardsson.gmail@com> on Monday October 23, 2006 @09:16PM (#16554676)

        I think you meant Edward Jenner and smallpox, not Pasteur and rabies. True, Pasteur did give a rabies-vaccine to a boy and did so at some risk to himself (he wasn't a licensed physician), but the boy would have died if he had done nothing. You can't really say that what he did was unethical, he didn't really have a choice!

        Edward Jenner however gave a 9-year old boy cowpox, which made him sick for 48 days. After that, he injected him with the smallpox virus, "just to see if it would work". This is hugely unethical, but it did eventually lead to the eradication of one of the worst diseases ever to plauge humanity.

    • by grazzy (56382)
      Ethics, you mean letting people die because some fundies doesnt like it? Now thats the etics I think nations are worth bombing because of!
    • Presenting adult stem cells as an adequate substitute for embryonic stems cells is just not true. Adult stem cells lack the ability to differentiate as widely as embryonic stem cells, i.e. they are multipotent rather than pluripotent. I'm sure that you wish it were true because then you wouldn't be sacrificing the lives of people who could benefit from embyronic stem cell research for the sake of some balls of cells. But it isn't true. And that's what this is all about. So-called "pro-life" people are
    • Cord Blood Hype (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ucklak (755284) on Monday October 23, 2006 @08:38PM (#16554424)
      I really hope I'm wrong but the cord blood mentality seems like an extrememly high pressure sales pitch giving the feeling that the whole process is bogus.
      I was really shocked when the pitch was given to me and you literally have 30 minutes to decide if you want to store this once in a lifetime thing "for your childs health". "Don't you want what's best for your child?"
      By not paying the $2500 and $250 yearly fee, they make you feel like a bad parent and you've signed the death warrant for your kid that isn't even 24 hours old.

      You can be aware of cord blood before you're a parent but there is a switch inside of you that flips the moment you see a progeny that contains part of your code using it's own life support system. That vulnerability is preyed upon by the cord blood companies, hospital staffed photographers, and hospital doctors because "The hospital doctors are better equipped and knowledgable than your own pediatrician." My guess is that they use that pitch to prey on people who haven't picked out a pediatrician prior to delivery.

      I can understand people that have a genetic pre-disposition for bad health would want this but I question the validity of the methods of storage, insurance regarding it, possiblilty of `visits` to make sure they still have it, and that the cord blood stored is in fact yours.

      We know for a fact that there are cases where stored sperm did not belong to the donors but to the doctor or the technician responsible of storing it. Obvisouly, there have been cases where labeling was an issue. This would be disastrous in a cord blood case if it were a labeling issue.

      Another scam (not calling cord blood a scam, I just don't approve of their sales tactics and I question their validity) is Stride Rite shoes. They want to have your kids in shoes before they learn to walk because "you don't want to have your kids feets deformed, do you?" It's funny that they have their own `certification` for Fitting Specialists, like Microsoft has their own certification for System Engineers. I have seen parents with crawling babies wearing Stride-Rite shoes and I know a former 'Fit Specialist' so I know that their tactics work.

    • Re:Tumors? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Neurosean (862751) on Monday October 23, 2006 @08:54PM (#16554530)
      IAASCR (I am a stem cell researcher)and while adult stem cells are indeed useful in certain cases, at the current level of understanding and utilization, they are not as proliferative, nor multipotent as embryonic stem cells. ES cells do have a lot of issues, but this tumor issue is pretty old news for those of us who work with stem cells. I think an increased level of availability and funding there is a better chance to overcome some of the negative issues associated with ES cells as opposed to alterting and manipulating adult stem cells into becoming more potent
    • Who cares? It's a rat fetus.

      I like seeing how people got so upset about this article. It's a goddamn rat fetus.

      • I reread the article, and it was human cells. This makes no sense. Why would they expect it to work in the first place? Seems like you'd want to test rat stem cells in a rat.

        Maybe that's why it didn't work. And, if it would work, why couldn't they just use rat fetus cells in a human?

  • by Darlantan (130471) on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:10PM (#16553504)
    Does anybody else find it slightly disturbing that the "Related Links" section has a "Compare prices on biotech" link?

    What are you trying to sell me today, /.?
  • Calm down.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:12PM (#16553518) Journal
    You know how you guys flip out over every "breakthrough" in an overheated university press release, and then wonder why that in-vitro or animal result didn't turn into a miracle cure a few months later?

    This is the same thing, in reverse. It's an interesting, frustrating animal result in a pretty good journal, not a crashing doom for stem cell research.

  • established.

    Because by the second day of incubation any cells that have undergone reversion mutation give rise to revertant colonies like rats leaving a sinking ship, then the ship sinks.
  • It's tough... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by posterlogo (943853) on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:15PM (#16553546)
    ...working with stem cells. There at two major practical problems. The first one is maintaining them -- you look at em wrong and the differentiate (BAM, no more stem cells, just some muscle, nerve, epidermal, etc. cells). The second is that BECAUSE they are so good at proliferating, they are prone to turn into tumors when introduced into the body. That isn't a new concern, it's just interesting that the research described here has actually observed that concurrently with alleviation of the targeted disease state (neurodegeneration in this case). I suspect the "fix" to this is already being developed, since the tissue they are destined to replaced in the brain is usually non-dividing tissue, it may be possible to engineer an 'off-switch' into the cells, whereby cell division could be permenantly disrupted (the tissue created by the stem cells would function as normal). This shouldn't be to hard, but does add to the effort already necessary to even generate patient-specific stem cells. More research!
    • telomeres would have to be cut off.... IIRC they are at the ends of each DNA strand and are the time guardian of how long a cell will divide.

      On a totally unrelated note, i'm LOVING the spell checking in firefox 2

    • by et764 (837202)
      What if they did the reverse of this, and removed the off-switch from normal brain cells. Could this make brains that are constantly growing and always able to learn like a child, sort of like Bean [wikipedia.org] from the Ender's Game series? I guess this would make your brain a gigantic tumor, but it'd be fun while it lasted...
  • I could just imagine a pointy haired boss in a dilbert like biotech firm talking up the tumors as an extra "feature" - and make the parkinsons patients pay extra for it.
  • by Goonie (8651) * <robert@merkel.benambra@org> on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:18PM (#16553586) Homepage
    That headline reads like something straight out of the religious fundies' playbook in their dogmatic (and I use that word advisedly) opposition to experimenting on clumps of cells.

    This is a partial success. The therapy did what it was supposed to do - it cured the Parkinson's Disease. It's just that the side effects are worse than the disease at this point. But that's a whole lot better news than it not working at all.

    Everybody with even a modest understanding of how scientific research goes knows that the road from interesting phenomena to practical application is usually a long and complex one, and that the claims of instant cures for everything from heart attack to spinal cord injuries were exaggerated for the purposes of winning political debate. But when a trial has a partial success, in my view that is further encouragement to continue research.

  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thisfox (994296) on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:20PM (#16553606)
    ...And biology research has been proven to cause disease and death in rats...

    Seriously though... It doesn't necessarily follow that the cure (especially a cure that is still in its infancy - 'scuse the joke) is better than the disease, and the idea is to do the research now so that we can use the stem cells to cure terrible illnesses (and repair missing limbs and all the rest of it) without the side effect of the stem cells going out of control.
    Of course medicine has side effects. Many of the drugs given to a person on chemo and radio therapy are to keep them alive while the actual cure goes ahead and kills their cancer. As yet we are still learning how to control the stem cells, and they are doing what cells do when uncontrolled: making more of themselves and living life to the full. We'll get better at controlling them if we research them. That's why it's called stem cell research...
  • From the article: Goldman and his team took human fetal midbrain tissues, in which dopamine cells are made, and extracted glial cells, whose normal role is to support and maintain the growth of neurons. They then cultured stem cells in this glia-rich environment.

    I'm sure they have an professional ethecist on board who told them all is well, but I'd say this goes a wee bit beyond the use of stem cells harvested from blastocysts. Where exactly did they obtain "human fetal midbrain tissues"?

    I cringe in

    • by pla (258480) on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:56PM (#16554032) Journal
      Where exactly did they obtain "human fetal midbrain tissues"?

      Well now... IANASTR, but I'll go out on a limb and say "from the midbrains of human fetuses", with a pretty high level of confidence in my answer.



      I cringe in disgust at how far this slippery slope is progressing...

      What slippery slope? We have a significant portion of the population that deliberately aborts unwanted pregnancies. If someday we benefit from the use of their medical waste to cure Parkinson's or Alzheimer's or even just slow down plain ol' ageing - Good for me, good for you, good for everyone!

      This doesn't require any sort of moral relativism to accept. It can provide nearly miraculous benefits for no (extra) cost. Sounds like a win/win, even if you take the FUD spewed by its worst opponents (tempered by a small dose of reality).

      The fact that it causes tumors I consider an exceedingly inconvenient (if somewhat predictable) complication, but one we can hopefully overcome with continued research.



      As an aside, I also fully encourage continued research into adult stem cells... Though not for any squeamish "oooh, no dead babies" line of BS. Nope - Simply for the far more pragmaic reason that tissue rejection doesn't present a problem after the cure itself takes effect.
      • by Mr2001 (90979)
        What slippery slope? We have a significant portion of the population that deliberately aborts unwanted pregnancies. If someday we benefit from the use of their medical waste to cure Parkinson's or Alzheimer's or even just slow down plain ol' ageing - Good for me, good for you, good for everyone!

        AFAIK, embryonic stem cells aren't taken from unwanted pregnancies at all - they're taken from frozen embryos (fertility clinic waste) that have never been implanted.
      • We have a significant portion of the population that deliberately aborts unwanted pregnancies. If someday we benefit from the use of their medical waste to cure Parkinson's or Alzheimer's or even just slow down plain ol' ageing - Good for me, good for you, good for everyone!

        This doesn't require any sort of moral relativism to accept. It can provide nearly miraculous benefits for no (extra) cost. Sounds like a win/win, even if you take the FUD spewed by its worst opponents (tempered by a small dose of reality).

        The ethical problem is that, if the raw material is "medical waste" and the results are successful, how long will it take before the demand out-strips the supply and people start looking for ways intentional generate the raw material? I'm already concerned about the outsourcing of pharmaceutical testing to thrid world countries - whether the test subjects are actually giving informed consent. Are we going to find out in ten or twenty years that these new wonder drugs are being produced by intentionally impregnating women and then harvesting their fetuses?

        Before you respond that I'm being ridiculous, do a little research into the blood diamonds mined in Africa or children forced into the sex industry in southeast Asia. People will be "farmed" if there is a market for it, and it cna be hidden behind enough shell corporations that the big biotech firms have plausible deniability.

  • by emjoi_gently (812227) on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:23PM (#16553650)
    The human body is an example of really crap evolutionary programming. Horrible spagetti code with no thought to make things modular. New stuff tacked in using old variables. Functions with multiple purposes.

    So when you debug one thing, something else brakes.

    God was a terrible programmer. But I guess that's what you get with a tight 7 day timeframe.
    • What, you don't consider genetic algorithms elegant? I think they're quite neat, as long as your subway doesn't stop working when the station wall clock's battery runs out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AhtirTano (638534)

      God was a terrible programmer. But I guess that's what you get with a tight 7 day timeframe.

      If God were clever, he would have divided the night and day last. Then he would have had all the time in the world to finish.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pclminion (145572)

      So when you debug one thing, something else brakes.

      So true... I often see that my code has come to a screeching halt.

    • Think of it this way: look at how many bits the human DNA has. Each nucleotid pair is one of 4 possible values, so 2 bits. A human has about 3 billion pairs. So on the whole about 750 megabytes or so.

      I dunno about you, but I'm thoroughly impressed. _You_ try programming a human in 750 MB, and then you can criticize. I'm talking not only the brain (which is a feat by itself), but also the whole organism there, including immune system, self-healing, metabolism, etc.

      I don't even know if it's unstructured. What
  • By definition, human embryonic stem cells have the almost mythical, immortal power to grow and divide indefinitely as they become the various tissues that make up the body.

    No they don't. Otherwise we wouldn't need to transplant them in the first place.

  • Why not use the embryonic rat stem cells? Or if they don't have them, why do we?
  • by nikclev (590173) * <nikclev&hotmail,com> on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:36PM (#16553806)
    Scientific American had an article in june talking about stem cells and their role in some cancers.. specificly that some cancers are caused by stem cells in "normal" people going awry. From june SciAm: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000B1BE D-0C0A-1498-8C0A83414B7F0000&sc=I100322 [sciam.com] Pretty interesting read, IMHO.
  • ...that blocks the operating cells?

    Wouldn't obstruct replication, but it does give rise to an error in replication, so that the newly formed DNA strand carries a mutation and you're got a virus again...
  • Bah, tired of trying to figure out how to turn it into a relevant joke, so I'll just come out and say it: "It's NOT a TUUUUMAH!"
  • by tsotha (720379) on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:50PM (#16553950)

    Did't these scientists pay attention when they were kids?

    Tyrell: The facts of life. To make an alteration in the evolvment of an organic life system is fatal. A coding sequence cannot be revised once it's been established.

    Roy: Why not?

    Tyrell: Because by the second day of incubation, any cells that have undergone reversion mutations give rise to revertant colonies like rats leaving a sinking ship. Then the ship sinks.

    Roy: What about EMS recombination.

    Tyrell: We've already tried it. Ethyl methane sulfonate as an alkylating agent a potent mutagen It created a virus so lethal the subject was dead before he left the table.

    Roy: Then a repressive protein that blocks the operating cells.

    Tyrell: Wouldn't obstruct replication, but it does give rise to an error in replication so that the newly formed DNA strand carries the mutation and you've got a virus again. But, uh, this-- all of this is academic. You were made as well as we could make you.

  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Monday October 23, 2006 @08:16PM (#16554224)
    Not every attempt at something new works the way you want the first time. The first heart transplant patient didn't live very long. The first medications for aids didn't work as well as what is out there now. That's why this kind of research is done on rats. *cough*eatshitpeta*cough* If medical research stopped the first time there was this kind of result, we'd all still be dying of yellow fever and polio. There are entirely too many people getting their shorts in a twist over this. Sheesh!
  • by meeotch (524339)
    "researchers have cured a Parkinson's-like disease in rats. Unfortunately, the Parkinson's cure causes brain tumors."

    "Take this object, but beware, it carries a terrible curse"

    "Ooo, that's bad"

    "But it comes with a free frogurt!"

    "That's good"

    "The frogurt is also cursed"

    "That's bad"

    "But you get your choice of toppings!"

    "That's good"

    "The toppings contain potassium benzoate..."

  • Ok... now I know I have been watching to much sci-fi fantasy and anime type stuff because I can't remember whether this was a fact tidbit I picked up or an excerpt from fiction. The line is blurring In my head.

    Well anyways I thought cells could only divide so many times over the course of a person's life time. So, from the day you are born your cells are dividing as you grow and age, but eventually your cells stop dividing and you body starts to decay.

    Could someone please tell me if this was just fiction? I
    • Its kind of true and kind of fiction. Cells are often "programmed" with a certain number of divisions and various signals ranging from infection to touching up against other cells signal cells to die and not divide. However, there are plenty of cells that go right on merrily dividing right up to the moment of death. Your liver for instance. It is true that a lot of your cells get a lot less efficient at division as you get older which is one of the reasons for aging. So it is a bit of a mixture of fact
  • First of all, they aren't cancerous.

    Secondly, these researchers went through great lengths to make these cells grow, without understanding exactly what they were doing. And they found afterwards that their method went a little overboard, or perhaps that they were using a bad stem cell line.

    Of course, it would be nice if this particular method had worked, but it's not a "setback" in the sense of calling into question the value or safety of stem cells in general.
  • http://hotair.com/archives/2006/10/23/video-claire -mccaskills-michael-j-fox-ad/ [hotair.com] I hate to admit it, but Ann Coulter was right! Liberals love to show us victims that tell us things like war is bad and stem cells are good and don't disagree with them, they're victims. So here's the science--Michael J Fox can now have Parkinson's--and cancer! Bravo!
  • Standardized human embryonic (or adult) stem cell therapies for Parkinson's disease are a long way away. Not months, or even years, but I'd bet at least a decade and a half. Why? Because of exactly the issues shown in this article.

    In order to have a successful therapy you have to have the following:

    1. A disorder sufficiently well-understood that you can identify the missing cells. Parkinson's is sort of in this class, although the rat model is a pseudo-Parkinsonian condition caused by chemical poisoning

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @09:28AM (#16558694)
    Okay. So what exactly are Stem Cells?

    Stem Cells are "un-programmed" cells which can become any kind of cell in an organism. They are full of possibility! --As the organism grows, cells branch away (from the stem) to differentiate into eyeball cells, fingernail cells, knee cap or elbow cells. The medical community is excited about them, because you can use stem cells with their vast potential to regrow damaged organs. How wonderful!

    The 'Big Problem', as it has been sold by the media and medical P.R. firms works like this. . .

    You can only get stem cells from babies or fetuses, where they still exist and have not yet differentiated. Why? Because, we are told, a cell once it has branched off to become an eyeball or an elbow, once it has differentiated, cannot de-differentiate. It's stuck as an eyeball or an elbow cell. Thus doctors and researchers must go to the source. Babies.

    Horrors! What an effective way to keep people divided and in a constant state of uproar.

    The only trouble is that it's a lie. Eyeball and elbow cells can de-differentiate. You can recreate stem cells.

    --Observe the humble salamander which can regrow whole limbs if they are cut off. New cells split from existing ones and are able to grow into new elbows, arms and fingers. How do they do this? There isn't a storehouse of stem cells hiding somewhere in the salamander waiting to be used in an emergency. Nope. What happens is that when the salamander is injured, at the site of the injury the cells regress into a fibroblastic state, and then emerge as stem cells which then proceed to form the new parts required to re-grow the entire limb. Elbow cells, arm and finger cells. No dead babies required. Cool.

    Interestingly, it is also observed in salamanders that when you attach electrodes to the creature's nose and tail, a charge can be measured. Apparently the nose is negative and the tail positive. Okay. And when you injure the creature by cutting off one of its legs, that charge reverses for a period of time until the healing process is well underway.

    Um. Okay. That's kind of weird.

    At the site of the injury itself, the DC electric potentials also do other strange things, and the cells exhibit behaviors directly related to those changes. Curiouser and curiouser.

    And guess what? Humans exhibit similar DC electric traits. The currents are extremely small, but they are there. They are not the same as those in salamanders, but then human cells also behave differently. We can't re-grow limbs, for one thing. But at the site of an injury, our cells also go into a fibroblastic state. Cells stop being elblo and toenail cells and become fibroblastic cells which form into scar tissue.

    But what happens when you apply DC currents from an external source? Well, it's odd, but the cells react. Human cancer cells, for instance, start to grow much, much faster. Hm. What else can happen? Well, lots of things, apparently. The human body, and in fact, all living tissues in all creatures, react in a variety of ways to micro-electric currents.

    Chinese accupuncture, for instance, is almost certainly based on this. --A metal needle is inserted into a key point on the body, it is set to rotating, (cutting through the Earth's magnetic field, thus creating a small current), and the body reacts in some manner. Place the needles correctly and a variety of different healing effects can be obtained by accupuncture doctors.

    Cool. What else can be achieved?

    Well, human cells in a fibroblast state can be made to de-differentiate. They can be turned into stem cells. Hold on. Say what? That's not supposed to be able to happen! We're supposed to be in an uproar over dead babies. We're supposed to be distracted through a permanent state of in-fighting amongst ourselves so that we don't have the energy to ever be free of the control systems holding us fixed into place.

    Has anybody mentioned this to the medical

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

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