Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Embryonic Stem Cell Breakthrough

Using embryonic stem cells, researchers at Johns Hopkins University were able to re-grow the circuitry necessary to move a muscle.

The breakthrough involved injecting treated embryonic stem cells into adult rats suffering from paralysis, allowing the rats to gain significant movement in their previously paralyzed limbs.

As Dr. Naomi Keitman of the National Institute of Health notes, "They did something that people have been trying to do for at least 30 years and literally hit a brick wall until now."

The next step is to move the research on to pigs. It will take years before the treatments can be used on humans, but with the help of embryonic stem cells the process has begun.

When applied to humans, it's expected the research will tackle host of impairments including ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and may even help patients with Parkinson's or Huntington's disease.

Embryonic stem cell research, of course, is heating up to be a major issue this election year in Wisconsin with Governor Doyle strongly in support of it and Mark Green opposed. News like this is surely not good for the Republican side of the ticket.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the story:

"Research begins this summer to see how well the technique applies to human nerve recovery, using federally-approved human ES cells in larger mammals like pigs, Kerr says. "

But I thought that the restrictions on embryonic stem cells were crippling research?

June 21, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

They are. Just because the restrictions aren't stopping all research doesn't mean they're not detrimental (that's the nature of restrictions, as opposed to an all-out ban).

If the lines available to researchers do not prove useful in humans for the Johns Hopkins study, there will be nowhere to go. If more lines were available, there would be more options for both this study and others.

But the issue for Wisconsin is really about whether research like this will be able to continue in the state. Mark Green wants to work toward preventing all embryonic stem cell research in Wisconsin, and he can do this through limiting both state funding and certain research practices.

Regardless of the outcome this fall, embryonic stem cell research will continue somewhere. The question is, does Wisconsin -- which is currently at the forefront of the field -- want to continue to help out and be a part of that with the rest of the country? Doyle says yes, Green says no.

June 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scoreboard still shows ZERO cures and treatments with embroyonic stem cells...

70 for Adult stem cells

but why let facts get in the way of research money?

June 22, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Adult stem cell research is over 30 years old while embryonic has only been around for 8 years -- the last five of which have been hampered by federal funding restrictions imposed by the GOP.

You also seem to be alluding to an argument that research money is the driving factor behind embryonic stem cell research. Considering every stem cell researcher out there -- including the National Institute of Health -- thinks embryonic stem cells offer the most medical promise, that means your argument is that every single one of them is just in it for money.

Yeah, go with that one -- in fact, I would love to hear Mark Green say it publicly. Talk about sealing the deal for Doyle. Nothing like accusing an entire medical field of being motivated by pure financial greed.

June 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is it hampered in any way when there are lines of stem cells just sitting one is using them

if it showed that much promise, there'd be a waiting list

June 22, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

What gives you the idea that no one is using the available lines of embryonic stem cells? They're being used daily in laboratories across the country and world.

Stem cell research is expensive and highly specialized, which would explain why just anyone isn't going to be engaging in it (and it also points to why federal funding is so important). It's also a time-consuming process, which is why breakthroughs don't happen every day. But as the article I'm pointing out in this post makes clear, breakthroughs are happening.

Look, this is very simple. The more lines and funding available, the more opportunities for research. The more opportunities for research, the more opportunities for breakthroughs. The more breakthroughs, the closer we come to treating more and more ailments.

June 22, 2006  

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