Friday, January 30, 2009

Stem Cells.

I have to say that Obama took a little step upwards in my estimation when I read that he intends to take the religious right handcuffs off the stem cell researchers.


Stem cell research advocates have waited nearly eight years for the policy change President-elect Barack Obama has signaled he'll make in the early days of his administration: lifting the restrictions imposed by President Bush on federal funding for research on human embryonic stem cells.


And now it seems the FDA is approving trails for using stem cells to heal spinal cord injuries. A branch of research which is more than promising since the researchers have already used this technique to heal the spines of rats (listen to the animal rights protesters scream). This one has to be the first target to hit because, the moment the first cripple gets out of his wheelchair, it will tune down the loud objections of those ‘moralists’ with a direct line to their invisible friend in the sky.


But this stuff, objections or otherwise, is being pursued all across the world. Just the few I mention here are the tip of the iceberg and only today we hear about stem cell therapy being used on MS sufferers.


Not one of 21 adults with relapsing-remitting MS who had stem cells transplanted from their own bone marrow deteriorated over three years.


We very definitely need this research and it can be seen that moral objections will be falling by the wayside as researchers hack out a path to differentiating adult stem cells for such therapy, which has to be the ultimate goal.

Now, researchers at Northwestern University have found new evidence that hematopoietic stem cells, a type of adult stem cell derived from the bone marrow that gives rise to blood cells, are capable of undergoing more diverse transformations than previously thought and could be transformed into a wide variety of tissue types, not just blood cells.

Damn but it's weird - every so often I discover my inner optimist.


5 comments:

daniel said...

nice to see obama actually following through (and quickly) on his promises to promote science and scientific research - especially in the promising area of stem cell research.

my understanding is that (currently) stems cells cannot be used to regrow old damaged spinal tissue (i.e. for someone who has been disabled for some time) as the body tends to "rewire" the nervous connections permanently blocking the break, but it can be used on people who are still healing from a broken back, for example. i'm sure in the future they'll find a way to fix even the older injuries (even if the body has to be "retrained" to use the paralysed parts once more).

the research on MS and altzheimers patients is very promising - although it takes a long time for treatments to pass trials - we could see stem cells become an imprtant part of treating some medical conditions in the next few years.

eriko said...

I feel a bit ill saying this but a lot of the interesting research of using a persons stem cells came about due to the asinine restrictions put on them by Bush. I have this theory that creative solutions are improved by constrained solutions. So maybe the a**whipe was of some use. It still does not make up for the rest of his tenure.

Neal Asher said...

Well said, eriko. Even as I was writing that I was considering how the supposed 'moral' objections to using fetal stem cells probably pushed researchers into trying to use adult ones. Much better I think, since if the cure comes from your own body there's less likely to be any auto-immune reactions.

Martin Sommerfeld said...

Maybe the adult stem cell research blossomed, but if that -as Neal hopes- is indeed the better solution they would have come up with it anyway. A bit later maybe but still.

Right now I wouldn't care where my stem cells come from as long as they can help with my MS, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or whatever. So that should be the focus right now: Getting something done, actual treatments that help more than just some testgroup of 21.

I don't know... i am generally optimistic about this, but I fear the payback might be further in the future than a lot of people expect or hope.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

for every "duh, why didnt Bush do this?" act of common sense, there is going to be a hundred "only this memo could come from a lawyer asshole". he's surrounded himself with pirahnas of redtape and money into fat pockets.

czech out this required reading...

"When compared with all federal contracting, just a fraction of U.S. spending waste comes from so-called earmarks"
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aYYHKPn4DOe8&refer=home

Watchdog details federal contracting waste.
http://www.cagw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reports_pigbook2008

BofA caught using bailout funds to pay bonuses and oust Democrats.
http://www.lessig.org/blog/2009/01/you_cant_make_this_stuff_up.html

Finally, Bloomberg News interviews Nassim Taleb at Davos. He speak troof.
http://www.bloomberg.com/avp/avp.htm?clipSRC=mms://media2.bloomberg.com/cache/vlC7sTsgLEAY.asf

Blow by blow ticker
http://bloomberg.com/