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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 phattyboombatty on 3/24/2008 5:49:55 PM , Rating: 2
The difference is that organ transplants are voluntary.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By BMFPitt on 3/24/2008 9:50:43 PM , Rating: 2
So is this. An embryo legally has as much say in the matter at anyone under 18 does. The parents have the power in either case.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By phattyboombatty on 3/25/2008 10:36:09 AM , Rating: 2
Parents do not have carte blanche to make any decision they want for their child. Every decision they make for a child must be in the best interest of the child. If a parent needed a kidney transplant, they could not force their 16-year old child to donate the kidney to them.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By BMFPitt on 3/25/2008 11:03:55 AM , Rating: 2
I'll take your strawman and throw it back at you. At what age should someone be able to object, and why? Should a 4 year old be allowed to dent their sibling a kidney?

And let's get back to the valid comparison. The embryo is about to be destroyed. It has no way of indicating its "wishes" on the matter. Just like that braindead 16 year old (or anybody without a living will, for that matter) who doesn't have any say. You propose that it's better to let the cells/organs die than to transplant them. I say that is absurd.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By clovell on 3/25/2008 11:54:22 AM , Rating: 2
It was hardly a strawman. Medical procedures have to be in the best interest of the patient. What he proposed isn't that we respect an embryo's 'wishes', but that we respect its life. It is a distinct difference.

Were the arguement as simple as you make it out to be, the matter would have been settled long ago.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By BMFPitt on 3/25/2008 12:10:47 PM , Rating: 2
And as I noted, the "patient" in this case is about to be thrown in an incinerator. A heart transplant is not done for the benefit of the one giving up the heart. But they're already effectively dead, so it doesn't matter. Same as with the embryos on death row.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By clovell on 3/25/2008 1:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
Very true. Some would argue that we shouldn't have let it get to that point, though. This is reflected in the current administration's limited support of ESC research.


By phattyboombatty on 3/25/2008 1:13:17 PM , Rating: 2
Your fact scenario has changed since your initial post. I will grant you that there is not much difference between a harvested embryo that is no longer viable and the harvesting of organs from a deceased minor child, where in both cases the parents have consented.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By phattyboombatty on 3/25/2008 12:50:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
At what age should someone be able to object, and why?


When a child has reached the age of majority (usually 18), they are allowed to make their own medical decisions. Prior to that time, the child's parents are entrusted to make medical decisions on behalf of the child, because the child is not yet competent to make complex medical decisions. However, the parents' decisions regarding their children's medical care are to be made in the best interests of the child.

quote:
Should a 4 year old be allowed to dent their sibling a kidney?


I'm not sure what you mean by "dent" here. I'll assume you mean "donate." This decision would be made by the 4-year old's parents, taking into account the best interests of the 4-year old.

quote:
And let's get back to the valid comparison. The embryo is about to be destroyed. It has no way of indicating its "wishes" on the matter.


A six-month old baby has no way of indicating its "wishes" on whether it would like to continue living. However, the law says that the baby has the right to continue living. As I've stated, parents are entrusted with making decisions on behalf of the child (who cannot indicate their "wishes" independently) taking into account the best interests of the child.

quote:
Just like that braindead 16 year old (or anybody without a living will, for that matter) who doesn't have any say.


The 16-year old in my example wasn't braindead. I'm not sure why you thought that. In the situation where a child has died or death is imminent, the choice of whether to harvest the child's organs rests with the parents. Obviously, since the child is dead or about to be dead, the "best interests" qualifier does not really apply in those cases.

quote:
You propose that it's better to let the cells/organs die than to transplant them. I say that is absurd.


Please show me where I proposed this. After reading your last reply, I have the impression that when you originally talked about organ transplanting, you were talking about the specific scenario of harvesting organs after a donor has died or is about to die. If this had been clear in the original post, it would obviously have changed the dynamics of this discussion.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By BMFPitt on 3/25/2008 1:28:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
After reading your last reply, I have the impression that when you originally talked about organ transplanting, you were talking about the specific scenario of harvesting organs after a donor has died or is about to die. If this had been clear in the original post, it would obviously have changed the dynamics of this discussion.
We're talking about whether or not to get material from something before it is destroyed. There is no "continue to 'live'" option involved. I assumed you were just ignoring that out of convenience.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By clovell on 3/25/2008 1:39:12 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, but it's not that simple. Your opponents don't think it should get to that point, but the reality is that it does. So what to do now? Condone it? What does that do for their arguement? It shows that if you can get into such a situation (no 'continue to live' option) before anyone can stop you, people who are against it will let you do it, which is also, a reality.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By BMFPitt on 3/25/2008 1:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
Those people are wrong. They have come to their reasoning out of a combination of ignorance and stubbornness, and I regret that they are paid any attention to. Thankfully, it appears that the next administration will be run by someone who is not wrong on this particular subject.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By clovell on 3/25/2008 2:55:27 PM , Rating: 2
LOL - they're wrong, huh? Why? Because you say so? Maybe you could provide some substantiation for such a baseless claim. I've given plenty, and I've given plenty of thought and reading to the subject, which I've laid out.

The current administration did likewise, as it was the first to appoint an interdisciplinary bioethics council for this exact issue. Ethics must be carefully considered and weighed against the potential advantages of any research, and that's exactly what Bush did.

It's not a position arrived at out of stubbornes, and it certainly isn't one arrived at out of ignorance - you might try reading the report yourself. Contrary to what some may think, the people who hold this position are not ignorant people who defend inconsistent positions to the death - many are just as educated, some much more so than you or I on the subject.

Since you're familiar with logical fallacies, and you often quote them, you must certainly realize that you just stereotyped an entire group so that you could blast their position with an ad hominem attack. If that's all you've got left, then any further discourse on the subject is rather futile.

Good day.


RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By BMFPitt on 3/25/2008 7:13:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
they're wrong, huh? Why? Because you say so? Maybe you could provide some substantiation for such a baseless claim.
Most people find it pretty self evident. Those who agree with them would generally never change their mind short of finding themselves in need of some therapy that stem cells may help with.
quote:
The current administration did likewise, as it was the first to appoint an interdisciplinary bioethics council for this exact issue.
Great way to add credibility to your side. Even when Bush's approval ratings were in the 70s, most people were against his policy on this.
quote:
Since you're familiar with logical fallacies, and you often quote them, you must certainly realize that you just stereotyped an entire group so that you could blast their position with an ad hominem attack.
I simply can't respect anyone who holds that position, and while I recognize the possibility of exceptions, those few who have tried to argue with me on it have all reinforced my view of themselves as a group.


"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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