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Researchers announce possible treatments for two deadly and previously untreatable diseases

Researchers around the world are spending enormous amounts of time and money looking for treatments and cures to various diseases like cancer and neurological conditions. Scientists aren’t ruling out any type of treatment to combat these deadly diseases including genetic therapy and the use of stem cells.

Last week scientists from Yale working with researchers from Asuragen, Inc. announced they found a treatment that has performed well in lab mice for treating lung cancer using micro RNA (miRNA). The miRNA used in the study is called let-7.

Let-7 has been found to be present in reduced amounts in cancerous lung tumors. The low concentrations of this let-7 miRNA are thought to contribute to the development of lung tumors. The work of the researchers has demonstrated that the miRNA inhibits the growth of lung tumors and cancer cells in culture and lab mice.

Senior study author Frank Slack said in a statement, “We believe this is the first report of a miRNA being used to a beneficial effect on any cancer, let alone lung cancers, the deadliest of all cancers worldwide.” The researchers believe that let-7 miRNA applied as a intranasal drug could be a viable treatment for lung cancer.

This breakthrough follows just hours after another group announced a possible treatment for Parkinson’s disease, a fatal illness that currently has no treatment or cure. Researchers from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York have shown that cloned embryonic stem cells can be used to treat Parkinson’s like conditions in mice.

The researchers found that stem cells cloned from the mouse’s own body were less disruptive to its body that cloned cells taken from other mice. The researchers got the cloned embryonic stem cells by taking ordinary cells from the tail of the mouse and transferring the nuclei from the cells into hollowed out mouse egg cells, making clones of the mouse.

The embryonic stem cells were then harvested from the cloned embryos after a few days, coaxed into becoming the type of brain cells lost due to the chemicals used on the mouse to cause the Parkinson’s like state. Once the needed brain cells were grown they were implanted into the brain of the affected mouse.  The mouse got better.

Reuters quotes researcher Viviane Tabar as saying, “It demonstrated what we suspected all along -- that genetically matched tissue works better. It's incredibly hard [growing and implanting the cells] and it involves a series of inefficient steps," Tabar said.

While considerable debate rages over the use of cloned embryonic stem cells, there is little doubt as to the ability of the stem cell to help treat a myriad of conditions and disease states. DailyTech reported in February 2008 that researchers used stem cells to treat diabetes in mice.

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RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By tastyratz on 3/24/2008 2:33:53 PM , Rating: 1

Just because there are 2 extremes to a side (those who may be full force pro life and those who may be pro abortion) doesn't mean there cant be varying shades of gray. This isn't scientific proof were debating its a specific individuals definition of life and any moral/ethical concerns. Although I support stem cell research just as you there are those who have concerns because to them it might be morally wrong, or they just simply fear how far humanity will take this like all other things once they "get their foot in the door"

RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By JoshuaBuss on 3/24/2008 4:42:58 PM , Rating: 2
That shade of gray seems to have a pretty well-defined line already.. a very large majority of people are against abortions performed after the second trimester, but not nearly as many are against it before then. Seems like we should just draw the line there and call it a day.

Aside from drawing the line of legality there, I don't think the government should enforce any other laws on something so personal. No one has the right to tell other women what they should or shouldn't do with their often accidental pregnancies... if they go through with an abortion I think living with that for the rest of their life will be punishment enough.

So for this stem cell research stuff, let's just come to terms with the fact that these harvested stem cells are going to do more good then harm. It's not a slippery slope if we already know how far we have to go to see benefit from the research. I'm sure if someone started growing third-trimester, almost born babies for body parts it wouldn't be tolerated.

RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By tastyratz on 3/25/08, Rating: 0
RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By desertvet on 4/4/2008 9:22:43 AM , Rating: 2
An organ doesn't have the potential of becoming a conscious being.

RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By zinfamous on 3/25/2008 1:07:42 PM , Rating: 3
the caveat is that it isn't "pro-abortion," but "pro-choice." No one really likes abortion; it's a rather extreme decision for someone to make. The pro-choice crowd advocates that option should be available for those who really need it.

as for stem cells. speaking as someone who works in molecular genetics, and works with ES cells (mouse), my argument has always been that insemination is no guarantee of life occurring. So much can happen between insemination and up to and beyond blastula stage that will halt development. The process of cell division begins, but natural miscarriages are a part of reality, and always will be.

We also do IVF in our facility. One of our co-workers worked in a human IVF clinic with experience performing ICSI (injecting individual sperm into an oocyte--higher percentage of fertilization). She attests that IVF clinics routinely toss out frozen embryos after they have been fertilized. The debate around this issue is pretty silly, being that it's fostered by those who have no experience in the field. It takes physical space to house embryos, and such space is not infinite. Also, when per diems cost clients ~$50 per month to house their embryos, they aren't going to be willing to pay this ad infinitum. Embryos are frozen as backup, in the event that the initial implantation does not lead to pregnancy, or if the couple chooses this method for further pregnancies. No2 is also quite spendy.

simply put, individual IVF clinics can not function if they were expected to house frozen embryos for eternity. Those that argue that IVF clinics do this, only look at the theory of cryogenics, in that embryos, if frozen properly over infinite years, will still be viable. Indeed, this is the case, but doesn't touch on reality. No one will maintain embryos for this amount of time.

The issue that remains after this, then, is why toss out fertilized embryos? For those that think this is life, then it is indeed wasting life, and will always happen. Why not, then, put those embryos to use by potentially saving the lives of countless others.

For a man, and administration, that believes sacrificing the lives of his own soldiers, and 150,000+ innocent Iraqis is worth the cost of a very unlikely peace in a historically contentious region, to approach the actual facts behind stem cell research and IVF, yet hold the opposite moral viewpoint, is beyond hypocritical. And frankly, rather disgusting.

Sorry for the politics, but this is a sensitive issue with me. And when a jackass administration effs with my job and potential income b/c he uses blatantly false info to support a morally unjust side of a serious life-saving field of research....I get bitter.

RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By clovell on 3/25/2008 1:31:12 PM , Rating: 2
This administration was the first one to even consider the ethical dilemmas of this research by appointing a highly qualified multi-disciplinary council to prepare a report on it. Ultimately the council made its recommendations based on the research out there. The report was published. If you take issue with the facts it contains, I'd be interested to hear more.

If your field (ESC research) shows more than the twilight of promise that it has historically (being far eclipsed by adult stem cell therapies), then the issue will likely be reconsidered by a future administration. I realize that, by your view, you're hamstring by the current regulations.

While one side argues that the embryos will be wasted is research isn't done, the other side says it never should get to that point, and that by allowing 'some good to come of it' they are condoning that scenario that should not have been.

Though I disagree with your view, I think you laid it out well, and I can understand being upset; I work in pharma and the political prophecies of socialized medicine make me upset out of a fear for my paycheck and my industry, which, ultimately is in the business of helping people.

Dynamics like this balance our country well, in the end.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
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