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Old 06-28-2007, 03:11 PM   #108
Jae Onasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Exciting breakthough? Certainly. But not an immediate alternative. In other words, so long as ESCR remains the gold standard, it should be the primary course for research.
Please explain to me how a course of research that has had no medical advances to date, despite world-wide research, can possibly be a gold-standard for anything.

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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
It bears repeating that researchers have found a way to create ESCs without killing embryos.
Sure. Doesn't that then create an ethical concern for the newly created embryonic stem cell? I mean we do have a cell that has the potential to become a human life? Doesn't it have a soul? Who's going to defend that soul's right to life?

Unless, of course, you want to tell me that this is somehow different.
The stem cell has the potential to become a particular tissue, not the entire being. Sure, it can become any of the tissues, but by itself it cannot develop into anything other than one tissue type.

It's a respect for life issue, not (merely) a religious one.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Achilles--I didn't say 'a lot of embryos are adopted out'. Many, if not most, are not adopted out. I just said it's available.
Then I'm afraid that I don't understand what your point is. Your argument does nothing to address my point that most frozen embryos die during the freezing process, the thawing process, remain frozen forever, or are left to "die" regardless. If you point was not to say that there is another viable alternative, then I'm not sure what it was and will need some clarification please. Thanks in advance.
There are options available besides experimenting with someone's life.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
A person is a person as soon as they have independent DNA in a living, independent cell.
I acknowledge that this is the definition that you choose to accept, however you've yet to produce a compelling argument for why it should be generally accepted, let alone "correct" or "true". There are other available definitions that I (and others) consider to be just as viable and perhaps a little more logical.
Your 'definitions' are no more logical than any others, and in fact are less logical because they are variable. There's no way to test for brain waves, for instance, without possibly harming the child or causing risk of miscarriage. Heartbeat? It can't always be heard right away. Conception is the one definitive, indisputable point where a separate life is formed. There is no variability, there is no hedging, there is no 'adjusting the definition because we want to do experimentation on a week-16 fetus and we're currently limited to week 14 so now we'll justify it with this new thing'.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Saying a child isn't living because it needs to be sustained in a uterus for awhile is like saying someone on a ventilator isn't alive because they need machines to breath for them. You can't have it both ways.
I'm sorry, when did I make any statement at all regarding someone on a ventalator? I don't believe that I ever did, so your argument seems very much like a strawman.

FWIW, my official stance is that lack of heartbeat and brain activity = not alive. If someone is on a ventilator, with no brain wave activity, and cannot survive without said machines, then they aren't alive. Not sure how that's having it both ways.
A baby in-utero can't survive outside the uterus, just like someone in surgery can't survive without a ventilator breathing for them during/after the procedure. Both are alive, both need life support.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The reason I haven't addressed the 'where would ESC research be without the restrictions' is because it's sheer speculation. We don't know where it would be at. We could divert all money from ASC in favor of ESC and still have absolutely no effective treatments derived from ESC, or we could have a lot. So that question is not very relevant--it's a crap shoot and that's it.
Good, so this means you can stop making definitive statements about the ineffectiveness of ESC research, correct? I mean, you can't say it's worthless right after admitting that you don't really know, right? Thank you for reinforcing my point.
I NEVER said ESC was ineffective. I said ASC has accomplished far more. That's very different.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Where would adult stem cell research be at if we had diverted those research dollars to ESC research? That I do know--we would not be nearly as far ahead as we are now in effective medical treatments. With all the embryonic stem cell lines we do have in the US and all the research going on in the rest of the world, if it was going to have some kind of beneficial outcome, we should have seen _something_ by now.
Ah, but by your own point, we could be much further ahead. To quote you (quoting me), "you can't have it both ways".
You want to bet on something that has shown no medical benefits, or something that has?
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Originally Posted by Achilles
We have seen lots of "somethings", however your tendency has been to dismiss them because they tend to be promising lines of research rather than FDA approved cures.
What's benefiting people more now?
If you have a manufacturing process that is currently creating a product and shows promise for accomplishing more, and you have another process in R&D that shows it could do the same thing but has some major problems associated with it, which process should you put your money into? My point is that if you have limited research dollars, you should put the money where it's going to have the most impact, and that's ASC. If we had unlimited research dollars, it becomes a different ballgame, but right now there's only so much NIH grant money to go around.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Adult stem cells are easy to harvest--it's done routinely in bone marrow transplants all the time. Other types of adult stem cells are likewise relatively easy to obtain. While 1 adult stem cell can't differentiate into every single kind of cell, the combination of different adult stem cells will differentiate into all the different cell types.
Source? ASC are currently very limited. And as I pointed out for Darth InSidious, neglecting ESCr in favor or ASCr does nothing to move developmental research forward. Another huge negative for the current course of action in the U.S.
Why aren't we seeing those advances in world research? Because there aren't any currently, and the problems of tumorgenicity in ESC is a tremendous problem that ASC does not have. If you have umbilical cord cells, you certainly have the ability to consider developmental research.

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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The point is moot anyway if they can derive ESC without killing an embryo.
Not true for the reasons provided above.
You're ignoring a variety of articles saying otherwise.

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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I don't have an objection to ESC research itself, I have an objection to killing embryos to get those stem cells.
Sure, and are those objections based on rationale, ethical, and/or scientific reasons or are they based on your religious beliefs? If it's the former, please be so kind as to expand on what they are. If it's the latter, then we can just acknowledge that and move on if you would like.
It's unethical to experiment on someone and kill them without their consent.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Which raises the point: If Bush and the religious right are so interested in creating a culture of life, why aren't they moving to ban the practice of embryo destruction? It seems that the policy is that human embryos can be destroyed, however they cannot be destroyed for scientific research. It would really help me to understand the arguments if there weren't so many inconsistencies.
I wasn't aware they were. And they indeed should be consistent.

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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by GarfieldJL
While I would have loved to see him cured, he wouldn't have wanted unborn infants to die which is arguably what an embryo is, while they can't survive on their own, a newborn can't either without someone taking care of it are we going to say next that babies aren't people? One could then argue this about toddlers, and then children under 10.
Slipper-slope fallacy.
Why is your definition of life any more valid than Barbara Boxer's, who allegedly once said 'it's not a life until the baby's taken home from the hospital'?
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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Pavlos
Well, when one considers the fact that the fly as no ability to realise that it is alive - its sensory perceptions are for living, surviving, and reproducing... just as our own ones are (but that's beside the point) - it has no ability to miss being alive .
And how much time do we spend arguing for houseflies' rights to life?
About as long as it takes for me to smack them with the fly-swatter and render the argument moot.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Pavlos
However, I do have to ask the question: what is the difference between an undifferentiated, totipotent zygote and an undifferentiated, totipotent umbilical cord cell is?
To my understanding: none. However, Federal law prohibits funding of embryonic stem cell research regarless of the source. ESC from the umbilical cord are eligible for just as much federal funding as those taken from the embryos that would have been destroyed in the fertility clinics. Exactly zero dollars and zero cents. That's the first big problem.
I do have an issue with that, because a stem cell, while it has the embryo's DNA, is not the embryo. It's a cell that's already differentiated within the embryo, and the stem cell will develop into a specific tissue at some point, but it can only become 1 tissue, not the whole baby. It's past the initial zygote stage. And yes, that's splitting hairs, but it's an important distinction. If you take a stem cell out and expose it to a variety of different hormones or biochemicals, it will turn into a variety of different tissues. However, it will not turn into another entire embryo--it's already differentiated beyond that point.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
The second big problem is the fact that no sound argument has been presented for why embryos taken from fertility clinics should not be used. There are more, but these two are showstoppers and should be sufficient for the sake of this conversation. I personally don't care where the ESCs come from, I simply think that we should be doing the research and take offence to the fact that said research is limited in the U.S. for no logical reason.
Because we shouldn't be taking another life as a sacrifice for our own. I'm not sure how much more anyone needs than that.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Pavlos
Surely, because both the cell types are non-specialised, they both have the potential to be a human being - both given the right conditions? And the business of turning normal body cells into stem cells: surely that is creating the potential for a new, human life then destroying it?
Again you are correct. It seems to me that the religous conservative argument would be much more powerful if it were consistent. The fact that it's not leads me to think that most of the people adopting said arguments don't truly understand the issue.
Um, yeah. I had to study embryology as part of brain and eye/vision development in doctor school. I understand it pretty damn well, thank you. Neither of you are correct in this instance. Stem cells, barring somatic cell nuclear transfer which is another subject entirely and not applicable to this argument because it involves different techniques entirely, cannot become an entirely new person. They can only differentiate into different tissues. You can take an adult cell, turn it into a stem cell, but you cannot make that stem cell turn into another entire person. You can make that stem cell turn into any other tissue that belongs to that person, but you can't make it an entire person. You can only turn that one stem cell into one tissue at a time.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pavlos
Pavlos--the stem cells are harvested from an embryo, but an embryonic stem cell is not the same as an embryo. The stem cells are one of a number of different types of cells that an embryo has, like nerve cells or skin cells, etc. So an umbilical stem cell may be the same as one from an embryo, but that's just a part of the embryo, not the whole embryo.
I'm unclear on many of the point here, however with that said, on the surface, you appear to be wrong.
Actually, he is correct here. It's a part, but not the whole, embryo.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Embryonic stems cells are not techincally an embryo (they are a blastocyst),
ESCs are also not blastocysts. ESCs are derived from a very specific part of the blastocyst.
[quote="Achilles"]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
however they will eventually become an embryo much later in the development cycle. Stem cells eventually become nerve cells and skins cells, so to say that they are different is technically correct, but at the very least also somewhat misleading.
I don't consider the 2 or 3 days between blastocyst-hood and embryo-hood 'much later'. We go from conceptus to zygote to blastocyst to embryo within about 1 week from fertilization. Some call the group of cells an embryo from fertilization to about week 8 in humans the embryo and blastocyst is just one stage of that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
One of the important aspects of embryonic stem cell research that gets glossed over in the "theraputic benefit debate" is the fact that studying embryonic stem cells might help us to understand/prevent birth defects. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how tricking ASCs into acting like ESCs will help us in that regard. Even if we find a viable theraputic alternative, we still leave all of that scientific discovery untouched by ignoring this research.
That's a valid concern and it'd be interesting to see why folic acid prevents neural tube disorders, for instance. If we have other ways to get ESC without killing embryos, fine. I'm all for that.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Adult stem cells won't turn into another separate life.
Sorry, this statement is incorrect. Link
Come on. That's a completely different issue entirely. You have to take a nucleus out of two cells and put the nucleus from the first cell into the denucleated second cell. That's completely different from taking a stem cell, exposing it the the appropriate hormone, and getting it to differentiate into a new tissue. If you want to discuss cloning, feel free to put that into a separate thread, and that'll be an interesting debate as well.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
If any human cell can be used to generate a human being, then abortion is no more tragic than bathing or scratching an itch.
Wow. That is a frightening concept. So killing a 36 week fetus is no more tragic than scratching oneself.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Adult stem cell research has absolutely bore fruit. A _lot_ of fruit.
It sure has. However if ASC is patently *so* much better than ESC then why isn't ESC allowed equitable access to research dollars? I've made this argument before Jae and I'm still awaiting your reply. If ASC is the real-deal and ESC has no potential, then research scientists would quickly figure this out on their own with artificial barriers being put up.
See above analogy to manufacturing process--a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush. We only have so many research dollars to go around. And there's nothing stopping private organizations from conducting their own research. I just don't want my tax dollars going to something that kills another person's life, even if it's at an early stage.
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Originally Posted by Achilles
I think my point is conspicuously supported by the fact that so many researchers are trying to find ways to manufacture ESCs from ASCs and ESC's pluripotent nature is regarded as the gold standard.
Pluripotency is more convenient than using a couple different multipotent cells that accomplish the same goal, which is generating any tissue.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
If ESCs were truly defunct as you seem to want for all of us to believe, then I don't understand why so much effort is being made in there arenas. Perhaps you could shed some light on this for me?
Where did I say it was defunct? I said I'd support research on ESC if they could obtain the cells without killing embryos. I would hardly consider that line of research defunct. I simply want research dollars to go to a. something that is currently producing the most results so I get more for my money, and b. something that doesn't kill another life to obtain results.

Another consideration--the number of embryos produced by in vitro fertilization has gone down as the drugs used to cause ovulation for ovum harvesting have gotten better and the harvesting techniques themselves have gotten better. Fewer eggs are harvested, so fewer embryos are being produced and implantation techniques have improved, so women are going through fewer harvesting cycles before successful pregnancy. The number of embryos available for experimentation are decreasing, so developing other ways of obtaining ESC are going to become even more important.


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