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New Stem Cell Method Avoids Destroying Embryos


Flying_Mollusk
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Some of the quotes in the article expose the extremists positions of some anti-stem cell people and the Vatican IMO. Their problem is more religious than it is moral, which is why they oppose in vitro procedure to have a child and hence stem cell research. A child can be born fully healthy yet because the lab people did it, it isnt ok.

 

 

Biologists have developed a technique for establishing colonies of human embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos, a method that, if confirmed in other laboratories, would seem to remove the principal objection to stem cell research.

 

"There is no rational reason left to oppose this research," said Dr. Robert Lanza, vice president of Advanced Cell Technology and leader of a team that reported the new method in an article in today's Nature.

 

But critics of human embryonic stem cell research raised other objections, citing the possible risk to the embryo from using the technique, and the fact that it depends on in-vitro fertilization, the generation of embryos outside the womb from a couple's egg and sperm.

 

The new technique would be performed on an embryo when it is two days old, after the fertilized egg has divided into eight cells, known as blastomeres.

 

In fertility clinics, where the embryo is available outside the mother in the normal course of in-vitro fertilization, one of these blastomeres can be removed for diagnostic tests, such as for Down's syndrome, and the embryo, now with seven cells, can be implanted in the mother if no defect is found.

 

Many such embryos have grown into apparently healthy babies over the ten years or so the diagnostic tests have been used.

 

Up to now, human embryonic stem cells have been derived at a later stage of development when the embryo consists of about 150 cells. Harvesting these cells destroys the embryo.

 

Last year, Dr. Lanza reported that embryonic stem cell cultures could be derived from the blastomeres of mice, a finding others have confirmed. He now says the same can be done with human blastomeres.

 

Although he used discarded human embryos in his experiments, he said that anyone who wished to derive human embryonic stem cells without destroying an embryo could use a blastomere removed for the test, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or P.G.D. "By growing the biopsied cell overnight, the resulting cells could be used for both P.G.D. and the generation of stem cells without affecting the subsequent chances of having a child," he said.

 

Ronald M. Green, an ethicist at Dartmouth College and an adviser to Advanced Cell Technology, said he hoped the new method "provides a way of ending the impasse about federal funding for this research."

 

He said he believed the method should be seen as compatible with the Dickey-Wicker amendment, the Congressional action that blocked the use of federal funds for research in which a human embryo is destroyed or exposed to undue risk.

 

Dr. James Battey, head of the stem cell task force at the National Institutes of Health, said it was not immediately clear if the new method would be compatible with the Congressional restriction, since removal of a blastomere subjects the embryo to some risk. But the embryos that are P.G.D.-tested seem to grow into babies as healthy as other babies born by in-vitro fertilization, Dr. Battey said.

 

President Bush allowed federal funding for research on human embryonic stem cells, provided they were established before August 9, 2001. Although that might seem to rule out any new cell lines derived from blastomeres, Dr. Battey said it was not clear if that would be the case, since the embryo is not destroyed, and that he would seek guidance on the point.

 

Critics, however, have a range of objections to the research. Catholic bishops, in particular, oppose both in-vitro fertilization and P.G.D. testing, and therefore still object to the research, even though the cells would be derived from an embryo that is brought to term.

 

Richard Doerflinger, deputy director for pro-life activities at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the church opposed in-vitro fertilization because of the high death rate of embryos in fertility clinics and because separating procreation from the act of love made the embryo seem "more a product of manufacture than a gift."

 

Asked if he meant the parents of an in-vitro child would love it less, Mr. Doerflinger said he was referring to the clinic staff.

 

"The technician does not love this child, has no personal connection with the child, and with every I.V.F. procedure he or she may get more and more used to the idea of the child as manufacture," he said.

 

Dr. Leon Kass, former chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, said, "I do not think that this is the sought-for, morally unproblematic and practically useful approach we need." He said the long-term risk of P.G.D. testing is unknown, and that the present stem-cell technique is inefficient, requiring blastomeres from many embryos to generate each new cell line. It would be better to derive human stem cell lines from the body's mature cells, he said, a method that researchers are still working on.

 

Scientists welcomed the new development, but also expressed concerns. Dr. Irving Weissman, a stem cell expert at Stanford University, said the new method, if confined to P.G.D.-derived blastomeres, would not provide a highly desired type of cell, those derived from patients with a specific disease.

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/23/science/...artner=homepage

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It remains to be seen what this will actually accomplish. My feeling is that those who opposed stem-cell research on religious/moral grounds will continue to do so. They will simply find a new focal point for their objections. It's hard for me to see what objections might be left to them, at least by any rational moral code. But I think rationality has very little to do with their objections anyway. I think a great majority of these people are just uncomortable with this type of scientific progress, but instead of just saying that, they struggle to come up with some kind of reason for their objections. And these reasons are starting to sound more and more ridiculous. Case in point:

 

"The technician does not love this child, has no personal connection with the child, and with every I.V.F. procedure he or she may get more and more used to the idea of the child as manufacture," he said.

 

One can only wonder what this has to do with anything.

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It's stupid how a lot of republicans are against stem cell research. If you can cure cancer and other sh*t, then who the f*** cares if you destroy some embryo which isn't even a real person.

 

 

The above is an opinion, not a fact. The core diagreement is over the dispute about the embryo being a person.

 

My questions would be: Could these blastomeres, once extracted, continue to grow into a viable embryo? If the answer is yes, it doesn't seem to me that the moral objections would be satisfied.

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My questions would be: Could these blastomeres, once extracted, continue to grow into a viable embryo? If the answer is yes, it doesn't seem to me that the moral objections would be satisfied.

 

 

Good point/question. My initial reaction was that there was no way a single blastomere could survive. Here's what I found:

 

2. Are the removed blastomeres not themselves the equivalent of embryos or capable of developing into them?

 

Another possible source of ethical concern has to do with the totipotency of early-stage human blastomeres in vivo.18 After the first cleavage of the fertilized human egg in vivo, both resulting blastomeres are capable of forming a complete embryo that grows into a child.xx It is not certain at what point in embryonic development in vitro (as in IVF) such totipotency of the blastomeres disappears; it may be that, by the 8-cell stage, sufficient differentiation has taken place that individual human blastomeres are no longer individually totipotent without aggregating them or combining them with other early embryos. Clearly, however, if the blastomere removed for biopsy has the potential to develop into an embryo and a child on its own, some would find destruction of that blastomere ethically objectionable. And, in any case, little would have been gained ethically if the goal of the entire enterprise was a non-controversial procedure for deriving stem cells that did so while avoiding destruction of living embryos.

 

So, surprisingly, the answer is that we don't know.

 

Here's the link:

 

http://www.bioethics.gov/reports/white_paper/text.html

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It's stupid how a lot of republicans are against stem cell research. If you can cure cancer and other sh*t, then who the f*** cares if you destroy some embryo which isn't even a real person.

 

 

The above is an opinion, not a fact. The core diagreement is over the dispute about the embryo being a person.

 

My questions would be: Could these blastomeres, once extracted, continue to grow into a viable embryo? If the answer is yes, it doesn't seem to me that the moral objections would be satisfied.

If you can't determine whether something is or isn't a person, chances are it's not...

 

 

It's stupid how a lot of republicans are against stem cell research. If you can cure cancer and other sh*t, then who the f*** cares if you destroy some embryo which isn't even a real person.

 

 

The above is an opinion, not a fact. The core diagreement is over the dispute about the embryo being a person.

 

My questions would be: Could these blastomeres, once extracted, continue to grow into a viable embryo? If the answer is yes, it doesn't seem to me that the moral objections would be satisfied.

I just took the hippie test in your signature:

 

I am 1% Hippie.http://www.fuali.com/testimage.aspx?img=2f9b4034-9a3a-40b7-a22d-41c1592dcb0e.gif

What? Am I a Republican? Why did I even bother taken this test?! I guess I?ll back to my George W. Bush fan club and tell them I just wasted 10 minutes of my life. At least I don?t stink, man.Take theHippie Test@ FualiDotCom

 

 

1% :notworthy

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If you can't determine whether something is or isn't a person, chances are it's not...

 

To those that consider an embryo a person, they don't need to determine anything. That is the moral objection. I would think that if the blastomere cells are not viable as embryos, then the issue would be settled for the overwhelming majority of persons. Remember, the stem cell issue relates only to federal research funding of embryonic stem cell research, nothing prevents private sector funding of embryonic stem cell research.

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If you can't determine whether something is or isn't a person, chances are it's not...

 

To those that consider an embryo a person, they don't need to determine anything. That is the moral objection. I would think that if the blastomere cells are not viable as embryos, then the issue would be settled for the overwhelming majority of persons. Remember, the stem cell issue relates only to federal research funding of embryonic stem cell research, nothing prevents private sector funding of embryonic stem cell research.

I never understood this argument. If something is immoral or even destructon of life, then why does it matter if the federal government funds it or the private sector does it? Shouldn't one be against it regardless? It seems more akin to people who know they stand on very narrow and extreme moral ground finding a copout for their position. Almost like someone from PETA saying the issue on animal testing is about the federal government funding it, not about private labs testing on animals. We all know that's not true.

 

And I also don't understand this position defense of "it's their opinion and thats how it is." If someone held the position that using a condom was abortion because it stopped the egg from being fertilized, nobody would say that that was a sound position.

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If you can't determine whether something is or isn't a person, chances are it's not...

 

To those that consider an embryo a person, they don't need to determine anything. That is the moral objection. I would think that if the blastomere cells are not viable as embryos, then the issue would be settled for the overwhelming majority of persons. Remember, the stem cell issue relates only to federal research funding of embryonic stem cell research, nothing prevents private sector funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Can the embryo's feel pain? Is their activity in their brains?

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I don't think that protecting small cells like these should be favored over the opportunity to save millions of lives, along with making the lives of people with spinal-cord injuries potentially normal again.

 

Stem-cell research is by far the largest goldmine in medical science's history, and it should not be wasted for objections that are unproven to begin with. Most of them are purely theoretical. Meanwhile, lab tests have shown success with stem-cells before.

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It's irrational and downright stupid not to sacrifice f***ing EMBRYO's to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people right now and potentially millions upon millions of people in the future when research now pays off countless years down the road. We're not talking about living, breathing, talking, pain feeling, human beings, but embryo's that aren't even alive.

 

The American Heritage Medical Dictionary defines an embryo as "An organism in its early stages of development, especially before it has reached a distinctively recognizable form."

 

If you're not willing to sacrifice an "organism in its early stages of development, especially before it has reached a distinctively recognizable form" to save the lives of millions of REAL LIVING, BREATHING, TALKING, PEOPLE then there's something seriously wrong with you.

 

I'm really getting sick of the evangelical morals garbage that my party is spewing, but alas, the grass is most definitely not greener on the other side.

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I never understood this argument. If something is immoral or even destructon of life, then why does it matter if the federal government funds it or the private sector does it? Shouldn't one be against it regardless? It seems more akin to people who know they stand on very narrow and extreme moral ground finding a copout for their position. Almost like someone from PETA saying the issue on animal testing is about the federal government funding it, not about private labs testing on animals. We all know that's not true.

 

And I also don't understand this position defense of "it's their opinion and thats how it is." If someone held the position that using a condom was abortion because it stopped the egg from being fertilized, nobody would say that that was a sound position.

 

 

I am not holding this position. I am saying that the great uproar is over the reluctance of the Federal Govt. to provide funding for research, not over any kind of ban on the research. Certainly RTL groups would like to ban the research as well, but that is another issue entirely. Like it or not, you live in a republic, and a large motivated group of voters do not want their money spent on what they feel is the murder of babies. The belief that life begins at conception is a moral position that is completely reasonable, and also technically true. The question as to it being human life is what is up for contention.

 

If you're not willing to sacrifice an "organism in its early stages of development, especially before it has reached a distinctively recognizable form" to save the lives of millions of REAL LIVING, BREATHING, TALKING, PEOPLE then there's something seriously wrong with you.

 

 

Well, many of the folks opposed to the taking of stem cells from embryos are also opposed to the creation of such embryos. If your moral position is that life begins at conception, then the killing of embryos is murder. It is a logical progression made from one moral assumption that many disagree with.

 

Playing devil's advocate for a minute here: What if it is your wife's belly? Is it a baby then, or an "organism in its early stages of development".

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If you're not willing to sacrifice an "organism in its early stages of development, especially before it has reached a distinctively recognizable form" to save the lives of millions of REAL LIVING, BREATHING, TALKING, PEOPLE then there's something seriously wrong with you.

 

 

Well, many of the folks opposed to the taking of stem cells from embryos are also opposed to the creation of such embryos. If your moral position is that life begins at conception, then the killing of embryos is murder. It is a logical progression made from one moral assumption that many disagree with.

 

Playing devil's advocate for a minute here: What if it is your wife's belly? Is it a baby then, or an "organism in its early stages of development".

Life doesn't begin at conception, how can you honestly believe that life begins the second you splooge?

 

It's only an embryo for the first 8 weeks, and at that point it's a bunch of cells and nothing more, it does not even remotely resemble a baby..

 

 

 

Look, it's a living breathing human being! :plain

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Life doesn't begin at conception, how can you honestly believe that life begins the second you splooge?

 

It's only an embryo for the first 8 weeks, and at that point it's a bunch of cells and nothing more, it does not even remotely resemble a baby..

 

 

 

Look, it's a living breathing human being! :plain

 

 

Technically, it is a while after you splooge.

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Come on, no one can say definitively when exactly life begins, whether it's at conception or later on. You don't have to be an exceedingly reasonable person to be able to at least understand how someone might think life might start at conception, nor to understand how someone might think life starts at birth. Or any period in between. It's a philosophical arguement that has no definitive answer.

 

I don't think the question of when life begins is that relevant to the discussion here. The main question is whether or not this new procedure will ease the philosophical/religious considerations that cause people to oppose stem cell research as currently practiced. EricWeiner has brought up an interesting point that suggests that maybe it should not. My own take is that it will not, regardless of whether it should.

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I think Biological life starts shortly after conception, however Human life starts long afterwards.

 

I really hope this speeds along the process of being able to study stem cells and find what we need from them. The sooner we can start curing or treating things like Parkinson's, Paralysis, etc., the better.

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I think stem cells would be the greatest medical "discovery" since the discovery of the small pox and polio vaccines.

 

 

I also understand the moral obligations to it. I do think embryonic pain does need to researched. If someone can definitively prove one way or another, it would end this argument. If an embryo can feel pain, than it deserves a chance to be human.

 

 

But then again, thats probably a few years away from happening.

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I'd like to live past 100, and stem cell research can afford me that luxury...So ya, let's get a move on, because I only have roughly 80 years to get this ish figured out.

 

And b4P, stem cells are already discovered, researched and tampered with (there are more than just embryonic anyway).

 

What we need to do is develop these cells and try to reproduce cells of organs, tissue, skin, etc in order to provide, in essence, replacement 'parts' for people who need them!

 

Of course, that phase of the plan is obviously like 30 or 40 years down the road (Bicentennial man!)

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