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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 FeralMisanthrope on 3/24/2008 6:50:58 PM , Rating: 4
Judging from the controversy surrounding the morning-after pill and the Catholic church's stance on the use of condoms, I am forced to conclude that many on the pro-life side of the abortion issue believe that life begins before the sperm even meets the egg. Beliefs based on such a profound lack of rationality do not lend themselves to intellectual debate.

Arguments from the more objective pro-lifers typically revolve around the "sanctity of life." But what's so sacred about life? Pigs, trees, even bacteria, are all alive yet we have no qualms about killing them for our own benefit. Meanwhile, the sanctity of human life depreciates rapidly, following birth, to become virtually non-existent by the age of 18, as demonstrated by our social institutions and countless man-made atrocities.

The only thing that makes human life objectively more sacred (pardon the oxymoron) than that of a chicken or an amoeba is our capacity for rational thought. Unfortunately, empirical evidence suggests that the sanctity of a human life is inversely proportional to its cognizance. In other words: brain-development diminishes sanctity.

I find the whole "sanctity of life" concept to be a self-aggrandizing dogma in that the more vocally one advocates the sanctity of life, the more they demonstrate a profound lack of rationality, thus making their own life all the more sacred.

</pseudo-intellectual rant>

RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By clovell on 3/25/2008 12:08:20 PM , Rating: 2
First, you have neither a concept of the pharmacokinetic properties of Plan B, nor a clue as to what the Catholic Church believes about when life begins.

Plan B isn't merely a contraceptive - it is an abortafacient, as are many 'contraceptives', including, but not limited to IUDs and the pill.

And no, the Catholic Church believes that life begins at conception, not before. Hence why it is against many 'contraceptives' which have abortafacient properties. Furthermore, it is against the use of condoms because it believes that sex is sacred and has two fundamental aspects - procreative and unitive. It holds that when either of these are deliberately and knowingly diminished and disrespected, that the act of sex is incomplete.

It is a very Aristotlean viewpoint, and it is very rationally laid out if you accept the precepts - the axioms on which it is based, because the view is consistent with those viewpoints.

Now that we've dealt with that strawman, "the sanctity of life" concept is centered on such concepts like every person has an immortal soul - something which is given by God, but as you aptly pointed out, is debased by man. Still, should it just simply be cast aside because some people are jerks? Most don't think so.

So, for 'pro-lifers', it doesn't have anything to do with brain development. It has to do with beliefs and how they apply in practice. It is a consistent body of thought, much as any other philosophy. By misunderstanding it you've managed to show what you think it is to be lacking, but I'm here to say that you shot the wrong guy.

Let the lashings commence.

RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By FeralMisanthrope on 3/25/2008 1:45:16 PM , Rating: 2
The whole point of my post was to present an absurd conclusion, rationalized from a set of naive observations (i.e., a joke). I appreciate your refutations but rest assured, my personal views are far more pragmatic.

RE: Regardless of your beliefs
By clovell on 3/25/2008 2:56:40 PM , Rating: 2
Oh damn. Sorry about that XD

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