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First Embryonic Stem Cell Clinical Trial Imminent 224

An anonymous reader writes "California-based Geron has announced that the first embryonic stem cell trial may be in the not-so-distant future. Tom Okarma, Geron's CEO, recently announced that the company will be seeking permission from the FDA to begin clinical trials. From the article: 'Geron's plan is to treat people that have acute spinal injuries with oligodendrocyte progenitor cells grown from human ESCs. Oligodendrocyte cells support neurons in the brain and spine by sheathing them in myelin, a fat that helps neurons to transmit signals.'"
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First Embryonic Stem Cell Clinical Trial Imminent

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  • by despik ( 691728 ) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @03:39PM (#15555703) Homepage

    ...there's nothing to sheathe here.

    (I'm sorry.)

  • by gasmonso ( 929871 ) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @03:45PM (#15555718) Homepage

    I believe this was the result of propostion 71 that was passed in California last year. It allocated $3 billion over a period of ten years to fund stem cell research! Way to go California :)

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com] http://psychicfreaks.com/ [psychicfreaks.com]
  • Next up... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Personally, I think we should just cut to the chase and start growing humans specifically to harvest the organs. Why not? As long as they don't achieve consciousness, what's the harm?
    • by Oldsmobile ( 930596 ) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @04:12PM (#15555794) Journal
      "Personally, I think we should just cut to the chase and start growing humans specifically to harvest the organs. Why not? As long as they don't achieve consciousness, what's the harm?

      We already have those. They are called motorcyclists. Emergencey response teams don't call them "organ doners" for nothing.
      • The vehicles are also sometimes called "donorcycles".
    • Re:Next up... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CRCulver ( 715279 )

      Personally, I think we should just cut to the chase and start growing humans specifically to harvest the organs. Why not? As long as they don't achieve consciousness, what's the harm?

      Well, there are two problems with that as presented in the vision of the future of Larry Niven's Gil Hamilton [amazon.com] universe (not so hot writing, but good futurism).

      The first is that people would be more likely to take organs from criminals, since they at least can be seen as culpable. This is reputably already popular in China,

  • For example, will this lead to a cure for MS?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 17, 2006 @04:18PM (#15555811)
    With the babyboomers being the first generation (in history) to be at the threshold where science and technology is unlocking the secrets of how cells work and with the increased competition, it is no longer simply okay to accept that when you reach your early 40's that you can be let go because there are younger workers able to do your job (simply because you suffer fron the what is now "natural" aging process)

    With these new upcoming technologies (stem cells, bio/nanotech) we will be able to, in the next couple of dacades, to slow and reverse the aging process so that in this competitive world enviroment, you won't be tossed out on the junk heap when you reach 40.

    The only way this is going to happen is for people to push science and technological research forward and demand that this be done (instead of, say invading other countries).

    Remeber, in the future, when we can reprogram cells and easily as we write programs today, people growing up will be taking their nano-reguvination/enhaced intelegence/memory/internet-connect-mind-thought-t ransfer pills and much like todays generation (with ipods, pc's,internet etc.) not be able to imagine a time when this technology did not exist.
  • Move Further... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eieken ( 635333 )
    I hope there is some catalyst that causes a much larger wave of biological research. I want to see "Smart Pills", "Strong Pills" and "Anti-Aging Pills" all with little or no side-effects in my lifetime, I feel like we could have these things if we weren't so concerned with curing the symptoms of diseases as we currently are. I know that our pharmacological community is more concerned with making a buck and keeping us sick then actually curing diseases. I hope that soon enough something is done to halt th
    • Re:Move Further... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @04:54PM (#15555928)
      I know that our pharmacological community is more concerned with making a buck and keeping us sick then actually curing diseases.

      That's a pretty ridiculous thing to say. Yes, pharmaceutical companies want to make a buck, but scientists are human beings and many of them are doing their best to create the best drugs they can to help people. To think that they're intentionally withholding drugs or not trying to cure diseases to keep making money is simply ridiculous and paranoid.

      There are tons of people working to cure cancers, Parkinson's, AIDS, Alzheimer's, and other diseases. If you think otherwise, you don't know anything about medical research. The fact that these things aren't yet cured is not from a lack of trying. There's still a great deal about the human body we don't know. There's tons about stem cells we don't understand. The human body is so amazingly comlpex, it's incredible that we can do the things we can do already.

      Remember, drug companies and researchers came up with a number of vaccines for diseases that no longer plague us. Bacterial infections are fatal about 1/1000th as often as they used to be, thanks to the work of drug companies.

      Don't get me wrong, they're not charity organizations and I'm not trying to make them out to be that. They're trying to make money for their stockholders, and that's their job. The people who work for them are trying to cure diseases, though. That's their job.
      • That's a pretty ridiculous thing to say. Yes, pharmaceutical companies want to make a buck, but scientists are human beings and many of them are doing their best to create the best drugs they can to help people. To think that they're intentionally withholding drugs or not trying to cure diseases to keep making money is simply ridiculous and paranoid.

        Sorry, it's not. Between a cure and a treatment, drug companies will pick the treatment. Those scientists might want to save the world, but they signed an NDA t
        • This is why we have universities. The drug companies might get there first because they have larger budgets and a narrower focus, but independent research labs will make the discovery eventually. Then the drug company doesn't get to sell the drug AND they have a MAJOR scandal on their hands.
          • This is why we have universities. The drug companies might get there first because they have larger budgets and a narrower focus, but independent research labs will make the discovery eventually.

            Well, ideally.
            Unfortunatly, they're in bed together [hamiltonspectator.com]. So it's not a given.
      • Re:Move Further... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @06:54PM (#15556314) Journal
        "Yes, pharmaceutical companies want to make a buck, but scientists are human beings and many of them are doing their best to create the best drugs they can to help people. To think that they're intentionally withholding drugs or not trying to cure diseases to keep making money is simply ridiculous and paranoid."

        Well...

        I'll certainly give the scientists their due. The question becomes how much control does the company have over the directions the scientists' research takes them?

        Here's sort of how I see it: I have no doubts that the drug companies are hard at work attempting to develop an AIDS vaccine. Are they attempting to work on a cure? Because, let's face it, there are far more people who are concerned about getting AIDS and would like a vaccine than there are people who have AIDS. I'm sure the research that goes into an AIDS vaccine will immeasurably help to develop a cure. But which pill would you expect to see on the market first--the cure or the vaccine?
        • Viral infections are extremely hard to cure, and far easier to vaccinate against. So logic dictates that a vaccine will be developed first.
        • As callous as it sounds, time is the cure. Eventually all the people with AIDS will die, but with enough of the population vaccinated there will be no hosts and HIV will go extinct, much like smallpox, and much like polio should have by now (I'm looking at you, Nigeria). And, thanks to all the research done on treatments, those who do have AIDS will have a much longer and happier life than they might have otherwise. So you don't need a cure, just a vaccine.
    • Re:Move Further... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      "I just would like to see us move into a future where some of the basic human ailments have been conquered."

      I don't think you'll ever be happy. We already live in the era when people have a good chance of living into old age. Time was, before antibiotics, almost half of all infants died before their first birthday. Of those people who made it past age 1, half of them died before age 30. So only about 25% of the people born ever made it to old age.

      Here in the US, the average male life span is 75.2. Welcom
    • I want to see "Smart Pills"...
      It will never happen. Republicans are running all three branches of government, and smart pills would be the end of them.
  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @04:46PM (#15555905) Homepage Journal
    My fellow republicans, it is time we got out our pitchforks and torches. The mad scientists are going too far, and frankly, I think we all know we're overdue for some lynchings. God didn't put us on this earth to suck cells out of unborn babies to heal the sick, but he gave us fire for good reason, and it is time we used some of it!

  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @05:00PM (#15555948) Homepage Journal
    Science proceeds in large part by surpassing new thresholds. Many thresholds are surpassed by advances in applied technology. Today much of science, if done correctly, needs the professional touch of scientists who can enact complex procedures correctly. The examples below are from The Molecular Biology of the Cell [nih.gov], 4th Edition. The material in chapter 8, Cell isolation [nih.gov] gives insight into the advances made in procedural science that underlie the testing and validation or falsification of new theories.

    An interesting example is as follows:" A fluorescence-activated cell sorter. [nih.gov] A cell passing through the laser beam is monitored for fluorescence. Droplets containing single cells are given a negative or positive charge, depending on whether the cell is fluorescent or not. The droplets are then deflected by an electric field into collection tubes according to their charge. Note that the cell concentration must be adjusted so that most droplets contain no cells and flow to a waste container together with any cell clumps."

    The empirical scientists that correctly implement such challenging procedures are rarely mentioned.

  • A couple of years ago, I developed sciatica (which presented literally as a pain in the a**). Sciatica is an irritation of the sciatic nerve, which is about as fat as a finger and snakes from the spine through the hip to the leg. While some sciatica comes from collapsed discs, mine was a result of trying to train to quickly for a marathon and so damaging the myelin sheath. After surveying the available options (surgery, drugs, sleeping with a special pillow strapped between my knees) I decided to give le
    • Well I'm glad lecithin worked for you, but IIRC, "The Juiceman" made the same claims about mashed up carrots and plums.

      The reason modern medical science stays away from these miracle all-purpos elixirs has nothing to do with conspiracy and evertying to do with the scientific method. Since the effects are so varied and often not particularly pronounced, it is often impossible to isolate them in any stastically meaningfully way.

      disclaimer: IANAMD.
  • That is, the first US clinical trial. That would be, oh, decade behind the rest of the world?
  • The first human stem cell clinical trials were done in the early 80's on the "frozen addicts", who got instant Parkinson's from a bad batch of home made fentanyl (see "The Frozen Addicts" by Palfreman and Langston). The first and worst case was mostly cured in a matter of weeks.

    To respond to an early reply re: "smart pills". The first one was patented so long ago the patent has expired. It was invented by Albert Hoffman. He's remembered for inventing LSD, but he deserves a Nobel for inventing nootropics.

    Spe

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