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To cure sickle cell in mice just add skin -- no embryos necessary

DailyTech has long covered developments in stem cell research -- everything from using the stem cells in practical medical research to creation printable blood vessels to using the cells in more outlandish experiments such as the human-sheep "chimaera," which sounds like something straight out of The Island of Dr. Moreau

Most importantly new research allowed for the creation of pseudo-stem-cells from somatic (differentiated) cells, via an induction process.  The research was first pioneered by Japanese scientists and later confirmed by American researchers at Whitehead Medical Center in Massachusetts.  This new non-embryonic technique has the reluctant blessing of traditional stem cell opponents, including U.S. President George W. Bush and the Catholic Church.

The cells are dubbed induced Pluripotent Stem cells, iPS cells for short.  Last month it was shown that the cells could be created as easily from human skin tissue as mouse skin tissue.  Further, the research showed that the iPS cells behaved like true stem cells and could differentiate into the more than 200 types of cells in the human body.

Now scientists have completed groundbreaking research which gives an exciting glimpse into the tremendous potential the synthetic creation of stem cells can hold.  Researchers at Whitehead have used the artificially created stem cells, created from mouse skin tissue, to cure mice of sickle cell anemia, a potentially fatal inherited disease.   The research is published in the journal Science and is titled "Treatment of Sickle Cell Anemia Mouse Model with iPS Cells Generated from Autologous Skin."

The research
sounds so good that many might wonder why the scientists at Whitehead are not rushing to put the process to work curing human disease.  The reason for Whitehead's reluctance is that they are trying to change aspects of their creation approach in order to make it human safe.  Researchers currently utilize genetically modified viruses in the induction process.  The viruses have the potential to trigger tumor growth in healthy mammalian tissues. 

"The big issue is how to replace these viruses", commented Rudolf Jaenisch co-leader of the research at Whitehead, in an interview with the Washington Post.

The current treatment method uses multiple rounds of viruses to modify genetic behavior of the cells.  The first round of gene-modified viruses induces the cells to behave like stem cells.  Next the scientists used a gene splicing technique to snip out the undesirable sickle-cell gene and replace it with a healthy gene.  Finally the scientists used an additional round of viruses which induced the cell to develop into a bone marrow cell.

The marrow cells were injected into the mice with sickle-cell and anchored in the bone marrow and began to release healthy red blood cells. 

"All the parameters we can measure are now normal," Jaenisch enthused. "The mice are cured."

Hopefully the researchers can modify the technique to avoid tumor induction as the potential of curing sickle-cell disease would help save many human lives.  In humans sometimes sickle cell is treated by a bone marrow transplant, but only 20% of humans have a donor close enough to them to allow for a safe transplant.  And over 20% of those who do receive transplants experience failure, often resulting in death.  However, bone marrow created from a modified version of this process would be completely safe as the cells are genetically identical to the donor.

In the mice radiation was used to kill the bone marrow of the mice, but in humans chemotherapy drugs such as Idarubicin and Cytarabin can be used to kill the bone marrow in a less caustic manner.  In mice 80 percent of the marrow cells now are the genetically healthy cells and they have experienced no tumor growth.

George Q. Daley, a stem cell researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston, said the test was proof that human clinical applications of iPS cells were feasible.  He said,  "There will be lots of unanticipated setbacks before we end up in the clinic, but this work suggests that we will ultimately get there."

Jaenisch surprised some by emphasizing that despite his group's success, research on embryonic stem cells should be pushed ahead, not halted.

"All the progress in this field was only possible because we had embryonic stem cells to work with first.  We need to make more ES cells and really define which are going to be the best ones for different applications," he said.

Regardless, for stem cell proponents and opponents alike, this new research demonstrates a exciting process that may someday hold the cure for human diseases such as sickle-cell anemia, Parkinson's Disease and diabetes.

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By Noya on 12/8/2007 9:06:33 PM , Rating: -1
holding back civilization for thousands of years.

RE: Religion:
By retrospooty on 12/8/07, Rating: 0
RE: Religion:
By ImSpartacus on 12/8/07, Rating: -1
RE: Religion:
By retrospooty on 12/8/07, Rating: -1
RE: Religion:
By bunnyfubbles on 12/8/07, Rating: -1
RE: Religion:
By Samus on 12/8/2007 11:46:29 PM , Rating: 3
I'm sure if we spent the money we spend on the military elsewhere, it would have far greater benifit to civilization. Military contracts have a habbit of being inflated, and often don't even meet the research or construction quality of honest civilian contracts.

RE: Religion:
By therealnickdanger on 12/12/2007 9:05:08 AM , Rating: 2
Look at mandatory versus discretionary spending. You'll be amazed at how well our military operates, despite it's poor funding compared to other services that just hemorage cash.

RE: Religion:
By KristopherKubicki on 12/8/2007 11:32:12 PM , Rating: 2
There's a lot of evidence that also suggests we'd still be in the stone ages without religion.

Organized religion may take the backseat to science and discovery today, but there are lots of examples of fallen civilizations that occurred because or concurrently with the loss of religion.

The Anasazi cave-dwellers disappeared in conjunction with a the failure of a prophecy of rain. The Khmer Empire nearly collapsed after god-king Suryavarman II's death, which is why Angkor Wat is unfinished.

That isn't to say maybe as humans we need to look beyond religion once in a while. There aren't a whole lot of Positive Christians anymore, and nobody would argue that that's a bad thing!

RE: Religion:
By nosfe on 12/9/2007 4:19:28 AM , Rating: 2
and how the aztecs got wiped out because instead of fighting the crusaders they considered them *and* their horses gods and then died because of small pox

RE: Religion:
By therealnickdanger on 12/12/2007 9:06:09 AM , Rating: 2
That's because they had poor medical science, not religion.

RE: Religion:
By KernD on 12/9/2007 4:35:37 AM , Rating: 4
Your example are rather bad, if there had been no religion, there would have been no rain prophecy that would have failed. If they didn't think the king was a god, his death would have been less a tragedy to them.

The real positive impact of religion is that it unified people under a set of guidelines under fear of god, at the expense of others and there freedoms.

It just one more system of control, one more human invention, one more lie to tell when you don't know the answer to a question. I think we are evolved enough to accept the fact that we don't know everything, and be organized. We need no god's law, we have our own laws.
The origin of the 10 commandments is just that, they needed a code of law and had none, what better way to convince your people to follow the law than tell them it's GOD's laws and if you don't follow them you will be damned, cursed and whatever. Men can lie to each other, cover the truth about there crimes, but not from God, how convenient...

God's are a great invention, but a deprecated one.

RE: Religion:
By gradoman on 12/9/2007 2:37:34 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't you hear? Earth is the center of the universe. Get with the program, buddy. Okay, they've come a long way since then, but Copernicus only just recently got some praise for his achievements. Too bad he's somewhat dead.

RE: Religion:
By Shining Arcanine on 12/9/2007 12:33:51 AM , Rating: 3
A study showed that five percent of all major scientific advances throughout known history have been made by Jesuits, who are members of a religious order within the Catholic church.

Crop rotations were introduced by Jesuits. Major advances in seismology were also made by Jesuits. I believe major advances in astronomy for purposes of navigation were also made by Jesuits. The Jesuit order was established in the 16th century and was persecuted for two centuries in which they could not accomplish much work.

Georgor Mendel, an Augustinian monk in the Catholic Church is the father of modern genetics. He is the one that discovered what we now know to be genes and he would have never done so if it had not been for his work in the monastery with pea plants. If there was no monastery, he would have had no pea plants to observe.

During the dark ages and middle ages, monks worked to preserve the bulk of knowledge from the Roman Empire. Such information preserved mathematics and enabled Marin Mersenne to do his work with mersenne prime numbers. His work enabled mathematicians to discover that every number of the form 2^n - 1 that is prime corresponds to a perfect number of the form 2^(n-1) * (2*n - 1) and that all perfect numbers are of that form. If it was not for him and the work of those monks that enabled his work, we would not have GIMPS today.

Furthermore, many of the greatest scientists in the world were religious. If it was not for religion, they would not have had the state of mind necessary to accomplish their work. Such scientists include Albert Einstein, Carl Fredrich Gauss, Issac Newton and Blaise Pascal. With the exception of Einstein, who was Jewish, all of the scientists (and mathematicians if you consider Newton's and Gauss' mathematical accomplishments) went to mass regularly. If you do not believe me that religion gave these people the states of mind necessary to do their work, look at the gallup poll, which shows a clear correlation between good mental health and mass attendance:

RE: Religion:
By sweetsauce on 12/9/2007 12:42:38 AM , Rating: 2
LOLOL this made my day.
Crop rotations were introduced by Jesuits. Major advances in seismology were also made by Jesuits. I believe major advances in astronomy for purposes of navigation were also made by Jesuits. The Jesuit order was established in the 16th century and was persecuted for two centuries in which they could not accomplish much work.
Funny how those same jesuits have access to libraries of ancient text that have "mysteriously" been missing from historical evidence. Do some research before you spout crap like this. I think the Sumarians or perhaps the Babylonians might take offense to your comments.

RE: Religion:
By Lonyo on 12/9/2007 6:46:29 AM , Rating: 2
People have also been doing forms of crop rotation since the ancient Greek times (500 years before Jesus was around). The Jesuits invented time travel and kept it a secret?

RE: Religion:
By retrospooty on 12/9/2007 10:46:14 AM , Rating: 5
Shiney was right about Georgor Mendel - He was a monk and did sort of spawn modern genetics research with his observations and experiments on peas, but to say religion caused this is kind of off... The guy was studying what happened to peas when interbreading with other peas with diff charachteristics it wasnt like it was part of his religious work. In addition to his curiousity, he just happened to be a monk.

The rest of his post is kind of "iffy". The catholic church with their book burning mentality destroyed alot of vital scientific info gathered by greeks and Romans setting us back 1000 years until these things were discovered again (info such as the fact that the earth is round and the sun is the center of the universe). Not until the renaissance did true scientific discovery start again.

RE: Religion:
By KristopherKubicki on 12/9/2007 3:17:12 AM , Rating: 2
I was actually about to bring up the topic about Jesuits and math. Good points.

RE: Religion:
By TSS on 12/9/07, Rating: -1
RE: Religion:
By clovell on 12/9/2007 10:19:50 AM , Rating: 3
> religion is forcing people into a structured living on the punishment of *eternal* damnation. it's a form of control based on fear, more precisely forcing fear onto people so they don't deviate from the set pattern.

I'm not sure where this is coming from, but I don't live my religion out of fear. Also, structure is a good thing.

> those who do, will be punished, the spanish inquisition showed that. also, those in power want to remain in power, as shown by christians and muslims, "kill the infidels", or the crusades in short.

That was a long time ago. Times change.

> here's a difference between beeing a catholic and beeing a devout cataholic (:P). the parents have the decision to baptize their child or not and in those days it was very abnormal to have them not baptized. hell my dad doesn't belive anything in the form of god but he was baptized, since even in my grandmother's day it was still normal. was it really god or rather their own intelligence to give them the mindset they needed? i know for a fact that if my dad would have belived in god he would've been held back in his music making. good thing that didn't happen.

So, through this crystal ball of yours, religion is proven to be a very bad thing, eh? That's your call there, slick, but I'm not buying it.

> besides for every great man that was affected by religion i can show you 1000 stupid ones that are a lot more dangerous. besides that, how many great future scientists did religion get rid of, because they where of another religion?

On the other side of the same coin I can say 'How many great future scientist did a split from religion get rid of by legalizing abortion?' We can play numbers all day.

> there has been no greater greed then the catholic church, claiming to follow jesus's lifestyle of poverty and giving to the needy with golden chandeliers. the gluttony of their priests has also yet to be matched, spouting fat monks in a time where food was scarce. lets skip lust, but priests/young boys should say enough, it's not normal to hold it all back. since the definition of sloth has evolved over the years (one of the sins evolving?!? yes. consistency people.) i can't really think of a case, save maybe their adaptation of technology (Galileo, and other scientisis pursecured and burned for their CORRECT also later by the church adopted beliefs). there has been no greater wrath then the christian one, i think even god's shocked at this point. and envy? well i can't think of that one right now, i'll bet somebody else can though.

First, the Catholic Church gives more money to worldwide missions annually than any other organization in the world. As for celibacy, it works just fine - Catholic priests have about the same rate of child abuse as third grade teachers. That in no way excuses their horrendous actions, but it does show that there are lots of good priests.

> as wikipedia tells me... pride is biggest sin of them all. and the biggest source of pride on this planet right now is religion. just look at the riots when you show Mohammed's face. it's the muslim pride of their profit. christians have it as well, the ban on stem cell research, no abortions, no eutanism... it's the pride of their precious book telling them what to do that causes that.

Uh, no. It's the belief that all life is sacred and worth defending. Very simple concept that has zero to do with pride.

> the world would be better off with religion, there isn't a question about that. however people are not better off without beliefs. i just wish that in this day and age such a mass of people didn't need to belive in something they can not see, hear, toutch, smell or taste and has yet to leave any evidence in history that it's there, save for the word of 1 man.

There's been a lot more than the word of 1 man. You need to give that crystal ball a rest - not only do you not know what the world would be like without religion, it doesn't do us any good to talk about something like that.

> i smoke weed (don't worry i'm dutch it's legal) however i take every precaution to make sure nobody gets even a whiff of it, simply because i don't think they should suffer because of my nasty habbit (to put it simple). why on earth do i have to suffer from yours?

Good for you. How is my religion hurting you? My opposition to ESC is my right in my country. I also think an embryo is a life, so your 'habit' or 'beliefs' also cause suffering from my point of view.

RE: Religion:
By retrospooty on 12/9/2007 10:54:59 AM , Rating: 3
I think the main point he was making is that religion divides humanity far more than it unites us. Most major wars have been fought for it, most unnatural deaths that have happened are due to it. Scientific advances have been stifled by it and ignorance prospers from it.

There are many christians that are humble and do not force thier views on others, and good for them... But from what I see in history and what I see currently in this country is that most christians look down on non christians and see them as lesser people. This holier than thou attitude is very destructive -just ask the 6 million people Hitler killed for his beloved christianity. That mentality lives on in our country today and it scares the hell out of me.

RE: Religion:
By Etsp on 12/9/2007 7:47:13 PM , Rating: 4
With the concept of religion causing wars, religion is most often just a convenient excuse that allowed the masses to accept and embrace a war... If there had never been any religion, I'm sure there would have been a similar amount of wars, but they would have had to find a different excuse to start it. Religion is usually an excuse, not a cause.

RE: Religion:
By AggressorPrime on 12/10/07, Rating: 0
RE: Religion:
By retrospooty on 12/10/2007 9:21:44 PM , Rating: 2
1. They do not protect against STDs.
Umm, yes they do, maybe not 100% effective, but 99% is better than zero.

2. They fail 10-30% of the time.
Thats a load of crap. Condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy each year of use. This means the whole year, not 2% of each sexual encounter, but 2% for each years worth of sexual encounters amongst sexually active couples
(not your average teen that scores once in a while)

3. They make sex less meaningful.
Well, that is true, but sex with a condom is better than sex without risking death or unwanted pregnancy.

Here is a link for you. Please put down the bible and get the facts straight.

RE: Religion:
By clovell on 12/12/2007 2:57:28 PM , Rating: 2
This is a late comment, so retro probably won't get the chance to respond, but I just wanted to add that the 98% figure for condoms is an 'ideal use' number - meaning that when they're used correctly condoms fail 2% of the time. Real-world numbers are generally lower than 'ideal use' figures.

RE: Religion:
By SilthDraeth on 12/9/2007 11:10:52 AM , Rating: 2
If there was no monastery, he would have had no pea plants to observe.

So at that time pea plants only existed on monasteries. That is good to know.

RE: Religion:
By AvidDailyTechie on 12/8/2007 9:15:10 PM , Rating: 2
I don't like to bash other people's POV or anything but that's a pretty catchy line... it's like BEEF:... but more profound :-)

RE: Religion:
By Avatar on 12/8/2007 9:43:13 PM , Rating: 5
What does this have to do with religion? It's about stem cells. Are you trying to say that every single non religious person in this world has no moral compass? If that's the case, all the immoral people in this world is gonna cause so much suffering and hatred that the crusades will look like nothing in comparison. Next thing you know, everyone will be saying "having no religion is holding back civilization" because everyone will be miserable and people like you will be laughing from insanity...

RE: Religion:
By AggressorPrime on 12/8/2007 10:06:26 PM , Rating: 1
Without religion, man holds no purpose. They fall back to their animalistic instincts and therefore have no future. It is relgion that allowed the Greeks and Romans to conquer the world and spread their ideas of justice. It is religion that allowed the Judeo-Christian churches to hold onto their classical heritage, inspire art, and move forward in technology. Technology is meaningless without religion, for the purpose of technology is to understand the meaning of life. You can't understand the meaning of life if you don't believe there is a meaning to life.

RE: Religion:
By retrospooty on 12/8/2007 10:26:53 PM , Rating: 1
wow, that is wrong and misguided on so many levels. I dont know where to begin. Lets just say that is your opinion.

Judeo-Christian church held back technology so bad it created the dark ages... setting technology back 1000 years.

As far as meaning to life - You CAN beleive that life has a meaning even if a god is not in the equation.

RE: Religion:
By KristopherKubicki on 12/8/2007 11:33:25 PM , Rating: 5
The leaders of Judeo-Christian church held back technology so bad it created the dark ages... setting technology back 1000 years.

Fixed that for you.

RE: Religion:
By falonofthetower on 12/9/2007 10:35:05 AM , Rating: 2
Um, actually the dark ages were created by the barbarians who came in and wiped out Rome etc. The period that followed was possible only because the Christians did much to preserve the writings and then spurred on the great technological advances that followed.

RE: Religion:
By retrospooty on 12/9/2007 10:59:32 AM , Rating: 5
No, wrong. It started with the sacking of ROme but that was not the 1000 year ordeal called the dark ages.

The church surpressed science and people, and furthermore re-wrote your beloved bible to match their own agenda. They killed people for scientific research for the next 1000 years, if that research led to any conclusion other than the world is more than 7000 years old and is the center of the universe. 1000 years later when the renaissance started and the church eased up on the scientist killing then, things started to flow again.

RE: Religion:
By clovell on 12/12/2007 3:05:19 PM , Rating: 2
The church translated the bible, it did not radically alter its content.

The original Bible was compiled under duress, as many gnostic factions used highly embellished accounts of the New Testament to bend it to their will. A council was called of all the bishops and cardinals to put together a manuscript which would be officially sanctioned for Christian instruction. Later, books were found that were so widely used and accepted that they were considered canon, but another council was required to formalize this. Councils were usually only called in times of overwhelming need.

The deutero-canonicals were printed with the original canon for hundreds of years without incident, up until the beginning of the reformation, at which point the church realized that officially including these books in the canon was indeed, more than a formality. However, the original canon was left intact, as were newly canonized deutero-canonicals.

RE: Religion:
By rninneman on 12/8/2007 10:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
Whoa, I think your getting ahead of yourself. Technology is allowing me to look at lots of porn right now and that has nothing to do with the future or understanding the meaning of life. Although I forgot, religious zealots don't like porn.

On a more serious note, your view is biased because you firmly believe in your religion. (Which is fine.) But what works for you is not necessarily universal. I for one am not religious nor do I believe in a higher power in any form yet, I have found meaning in life. I have found a path to self-actualization that does not involve religion. If your path does require religion, thats great too. Just don't kid yourself that religion is source of all greatness in the world.

RE: Religion:
By Scorcher on 12/8/2007 10:57:17 PM , Rating: 2
Classic church vs enlightenment argument, The "enlightented" educated people have been putting up with this crap for far too long.

RE: Religion:
By AggressorPrime on 12/9/07, Rating: 0
RE: Religion:
By ziggo on 12/10/2007 12:16:35 AM , Rating: 5
to think that religion has a monopoly on giving people a purpose in life is arrogant and blind. I do no not need the threat of a supernatural decision that decides my fate to infinity do drive me and give me purpose.

I care for the world because I have the desire to leave it a better place than I found it. To leave humanity in a better situation than I was born into. I can gain satisfaction from this effort in THIS life.

I do not consider myself a fatalist, and I may someday develop into one, but the choices we make are based on what we have experienced at the time of the choice. For someone with a logical and sequential mind like mine this develops into an understanding that if I were given the chance to make the choice again, knowing the same things I did before, I would make the same decision as before. For someone that is not as logical maybe this does not hold.

I do not believe however, that someone knows my path before I do.

We do not in any way understand all the things that make the brain function, but if it really is only flashing neurons, then I am alright with that fact. I do however have at least the illusion of choice, and certainly a purpose in life, without religion.

RE: Religion:
By AggressorPrime on 12/10/2007 4:39:05 PM , Rating: 2
Why would you want to leave this world a better place after you die than before you found it? What is in it for youself? Don't you see? That very statement is a proof of choice. No logical being would put the world above himself unless if doing so is a calling from some unnatural purpose. Without consideration of an afterlife, this makes divine purpose ever more recognizable.

Logic from the physical world dictates: Do what is best for oneself, be it help the world or not. (Not: Do what is best for the world, even if it hurts oneself in the longrun.)

RE: Religion:
By OrSin on 12/12/2007 2:24:20 PM , Rating: 2
Are you insane. The thought of make the life and world better for those genetical close to you is found in every animal the exist. Ants will die for thier colonies. Mothers will fight for thier offspring (all species). So wanting better for the world and the people in it, comes from a greater being? I guess ants and dogs have souls now too. Please that level of crap is little much. And for the record Christain made not a since dicovery in it first 1000 years. All they did is translate the writings of other cultures.

RE: Religion:
By sqrt1 on 12/9/2007 12:25:17 AM , Rating: 2
I think you mis-typed - you meant to type:
instead of

as the url..

RE: Religion:
By geddarkstorm on 12/10/2007 1:28:02 PM , Rating: 2
If science had just gone forward with embryonic stem cells without looking at alternatives, we wouldn't have this incredible, and much more powerful, breakthrough now. Using unrelated genetics verses your own, identical cells, is words different and far more problematic. Now that we can turn our own cells into stem cells, regeneration technology will be a lot easier without the worry of rejection, weird genetic events, or stem cells causing tumors as has been observed with embryonic ones (popular science had an article all about that awhile back). This is truly a much greater breakthrough; and amoral investigations would never have lead to such alternative thinking.

You need to learn more about the scientific process: it's been around since the Greeks and was never set back as much by religion as people would want to believe. Does the sun revolve around the earth, or the earth around the sun? Without a telescope, and just standing on the ground and looking at the sky, it's impossible to prove in any scientific way which one is happening; absolutely impossible because it is a relative issue (you can't tell who's doing the moving). That is until technology enabled observations of other planets and their moons orbiting them. And even then the Copernicus system stated the rest of the universe revolved around our sun as well as the earth and the planets. And again, all this only started once technology got to that level. Science can only go as fast as technology, but once it's there, nothing can stop it.

As for religion, politics is what corrupts it and uses it to dark ends. Politics starts wars due to Man's lust for power, influence, resources, and the like. The crusades were a political issue wrapped in religion to motivate the masses to get that major trade city, Jerusalem, which sat at the cross roads of several major routes. The Galileo events were also political, not so much about his observations. There's a Princeton University lecture series about the history of Religion and Science, and it concludes that it's only a modern day phenomenon that the two have become at odds with each other for the majority's part; it's not historical and religion has not been holding back civilization. One must not confuse religion with politics (i.e. using religion as a thinly veiled excuse to kill any challenges to your power in ways contrary to its teachings) or political systems (i.e. the feudal system which probably developed in part out of the Roman governance system for provinces once its central government fell, and it was the feudal system which did most of the harm of the "Dark Ages", though science was still progressing all that time).

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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