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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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RE: Religion:
By retrospooty on 12/8/2007 9:42:41 PM , Rating: -1
I am not sure it gave us too many accomplishments other than in the art of war. At war, religion has given us seriously huge accomplishments.


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 (blog) 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:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/102943/Republicans-Repo...


RE: Religion:
By sweetsauce on 12/9/2007 12:42:38 AM , Rating: 2
LOLOL this made my day.
quote:
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 (blog) 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.

http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/fact...


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
quote:
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.


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