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Old 07-18-2007, 12:42 AM   #109
Achilles
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Generally, I try to reply point-by-point, but this time I'm compelled to jump around a little. Hopefully, I don't make my response too difficult to follow.

Firstly:

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Where did I say it (ESC research) was defunct?
Forgive me if I find it amusing that this is in the same post as these:

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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 Jae Onasi
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.
Those are only from your most recent post, however there are several other examples I could find from older messages. It seems pretty clear that you don't consider ESC research to be successful or anticipate it being successful in the future. That would seem to meet the definition of "defunct" don't you think? If I'm missing something in the translation, please feel free to set me straight.

Moving on.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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.
This seems contradictory. Now you're saying that you would support ESCr if the stem cells could be obtained without "killing another life".

Ok.

Considering how vocal you've been about the effectiveness of ASCr vs the ineffectiveness of ESCr, why would want to pursue a course of research that has so many problem? Because you think it has potential? More potential that ASCs? Wouldn't this seem to be an admission that ESCs are superior (for research sake) to ASC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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.
Please don't blame me for pointing out that ESCr is the gold standard. It certainly isn't my doing. If it were not, we wouldn't see researchers wasting their time trying to gerry-rid ASCs into ESCs and we certainly wouldn't see other researchers getting excited whenever someone announces a breakthrough. If you see smoke, odds are good that there's a fire.

For someone that works in the industry, you seem to have rather bewildering expectations for medical research. It seems your stance is, "since ESC has only produced results in a lab, but has yet to yield any treatments that can be used today, it's clearly not capable of doing so. Oh, and ignore the field of research has been artifically stymed by the federal government almost since the moment it was discovered."

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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 been a while since I took a biology class, but if I recall correctly, cells make up tissues, tissues make up organs, and the body is comprised of organs. Unless I'm missing something obvious, your statment seems akin to saying that cars don't contain any iron ore, simply because we see processed steel (...and plastics and composites).

Back to my original point, the stem cells present in a blastocyst eventually become a fully-developed human being. So ESC from an umbilical cord, presents the exact same "ethical problem" as the ESC from the blastocyst. You can clone a real-life human being from any cell in the human body. Any cell. So any cell has the potential to be a human being. See the problem for your "ethical" argument?

Let's just call a spade a spade and admit that the opposition argument hinges on the existence of a soul. Even if we did, we'd still run into the problems that I pointed out before, but went ignored (see post #1 for a refresher). At the end of the day, the entire anti-ESC argument is based on an unclear, inconsistent, religious argument. The "ethical problem" has been decontructed many times and found to be a complete fabrication. So I repeat, there is no ethical reason to prevent, prohibit, what-have-you ESCr.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
It's a respect for life issue, not (merely) a religious one.
Then shouldn't that respect for life be consistently fought for? Abolishment of the death penalty? Federal action to close down all fertility clinics until technology can be developed that eliminates the need for destruction of embryos? If you want to play the "respect for life" card, feel free, but as I've stated before it creates more problems for that argument than it solves.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
There are options available besides experimenting with someone's life.
No one's life is being experimented with. Problem solved

Can't call "life" unless it's alive. I would certainly concede to calling it "potential for life" but then every cell has the potential for life. Since we lose thousands of cells every day, we then have a very serious problem that has been ignored for a very long time: The needless slaughter of trillions of "potential human lives" every day. At some point we can no longer blindly accept an arbitrary definition of "life".

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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.
So medical science has yet to determine milestones for embryonic development? I could be wrong, but I seem to recall the OB/GYN having pretty specific expectations about my son's development. If the OB/GYN cannot hear a heartbeat at 8 1/2 do they just blow it off and say "well, you can't always hear it right away. I'm sure everything's fine"? Or do they have a point at which they begin to worry much sooner than that? About 5 weeks maybe?

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Conception is the one definitive, indisputable point where a separate life is formed.
I guarantee you that every human that has ever lived had a heartbeat and brain activity at some point. Hardly arbitrary. By way of comparison, not every fertilized egg has complete the gestation process and been born a living baby. Doesn't seem as though conception is very definitive after all.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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.
Using one arbitrary definition of "alive", I suppose. Unfortunately, you change the analogy, so that makes this a little bit of a red herring.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I NEVER said ESC was ineffective. I said ASC has accomplished far more. That's very different.
Should I interpret this as a "yes"?

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
You want to bet on something that has shown no medical benefits, or something that has?
I want to bet on the avenue that has the greatest potential. If you can show me how ESCs can't do the things that ASCs can, then I'll happily go whever the evidence leads. However, I know that you can't because insufficent research has been done to support the argument.

PS: In an effort to save you some time and effort: Providing a list of ASC advances will not show that ESC aren't capable of producing similar results. It will only show that the inequitable advantage provided to ASCr has allowed some progress to be made.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
What's benefiting people more now?
Completely beside the point. I mention this each time you raise it

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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?
Poor analogy. If I manufacture a product in the most effective way possible with the existing technology, I'm pretty happy. If R&D says that they have a line on a more effective and efficient technology which will allow me to improve my process, you'd better believe I'm going to invest in it before my competitors figure out how to do it first.

One of the first things that they teach you in business school is that it isn't smart to do things a certain way "just because you've always done it that way". Innovation = success. But perhaps Edison shouldn't have worked so hard to overcome the obstacles surrounding the lightbulb. We'd all be much better off had he opted to churn out a better candle, right?

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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.
NIH's registry for Active Funding Opportunities related to ESCs

Unfortunately, this isn't a case of the scarcity model ruining all our fun. This is artificial barriers to scientific research. If they were barriers truly based on ethics, then I would support them. However they are not, so I choose to oppose them.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Why aren't we seeing those advances in world research?
You must not have liked my answer all the other times I've offered. I can only hope that once more does the trick.

1) We have (I used MSNBC because the article it fairly non-technical. I can provide more technical sources upon request).

2) If this is the future of medicine and the rest of the world has a jump-start, why do you think they would be inclined to give us updates? If Russia had a head start on nuclear weapons in the 40's and 50's do you think they would have been advertising to us? No, they would have done just like we did and announce the technology in a more memorable way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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.
It's very difficult to prove that something *doesn't* exist. Careful what statements you make, as someone might ask you to support them.

PS: My request for a source still stands. Please let me know if you do not intend on honoring it.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
You're ignoring a variety of articles saying otherwise.
I'm not ignoring them if they have absolutely nothing to do with my point.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
It's unethical to experiment on someone and kill them without their consent.
Right. So what if you are dealing with something that is incapable of giving concent? Like a laboratory rat, for instance. Regarding capacity for pain and/or suffering, a adult lab rat should have significantly more consideration than collection of 50-150 cells. Can we extend our "right to life" movement to lab rats as well?

Or can we concede that consent is not necessary unless consent is possible and/or some other ethical consideration?

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I wasn't aware they were. And they indeed should be consistent.
You weren't aware that embryos are lost during the freezing and thawing processes and that un-implanted embryos are permitted to expire naturally? You sure seemed to be aware of it when you were arguing that some of those frozen embryos can be adopted out to other families instead of destroyed.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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'?
Red herring, but I'll play. Because Barbara Boxer's definition ignores the fact that an embryo show signs of life long before it goes home in a carseat.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
About as long as it takes for me to smack them with the fly-swatter and render the argument moot.
Very clever. Am I to take your point that you have no problem killing a living organism which clearly displays every single characteristic necessary to qualify as "life"? Is this not hypocritical considering your stance regarding abortion and/or embryonic stem cell research? Could you please help me understand why a housefly with billions of cells is so easily cast off while a blastocyst with a maximum of 150 cells should be defended with the full force of our legal system?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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.
I believe that I already tackled this elsewhere, but in case I didn't:

This is splitting hairs (as you point out) however I fail to recognize the significance. Scientists, armed with sufficient understanding of the process, could potentially "build" an embryo out of a stem cell. Nature already does it, so we know it can be done, we just don't know how.

With that said, I'm not sure what this has to with the original point, which was "it doesn't matter where the embryonic stem cells come from because the current law doesn't differentiate by source, only by type. Therefore any embryonic stem cell is sequestered from gov't funding". I hope that helps to clarify.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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.
That doesn't address the point, Jae. A majority of these embryos are going to die anyway regardless of what laws exist surround stem cell research. You seem to be ignoring this fact even though it's been raised several times.

My response is fashioned in such a way as to deliberately keep us on point. If you would like to branch out into a separate discussion about the ethics of sacrifice, please let me know.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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.
Well then how does nature do it? If it weren't possible, then multi-celluar organisms wouldn't exist. "Human understanding being temporarily insufficient to duplicate in laboratory conditions" is not the same thing as "not possible". Besides, your reponse does not address my point, which is that ultra-conservative rhetoric on this matter is inconsistent, even though you presume to tell me that I am wrong.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Actually, he is correct here. It's a part, but not the whole, embryo.
Clearly you were able to comprehend his point where I was not. Since he has not opted to clarify, I'm still not sure what he hoped to communicate, therefore, I still cannot offer a response.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The link was not necessary, Jae. I think I've demonstrated in dozens of other posts that I am well aware of the difference. I do appreciate your effort to correct the minor error that I made in my haste though.

There seems to be some "fun with tags" here, so I'll try to weed out what's your's from what's mine.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi (I think???)
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.
I was thinking of the context of a fully formed human ready for birthing, per the context of the conversation, however you are technically correct. Since you didn't address the thrust of my point, I'm assuming that it's uncontested?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi (I think???)
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.
I suppose I'm happy to hear that you'd be on board with that. I guess I'd be curious to know what *ethical* argument you could present for why we should wait.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi (I think???)
Come on. That's a completely different issue entirely.
No it is not. More on this in a moment...

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi (I think???)
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.
The point is that *any* living cell can be used to create a human life. If you would like to present an argument (within an ethical context) of why some cells deserve special protection, while others do not, I'd be more than happy to hear it. In fact, considering that I've raised this point several times, I will make a point of letting you know that I am specifically interested in anything you have to say on the matter.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Wow. That is a frightening concept. So killing a 36 week fetus is no more tragic than scratching oneself.
Was that a question or a statement? From a clinical perspective, you are correct. Luckily, most humans are not so cold. However, I do think such a realization speaks volumes for the ethicality of aborting a 20-25 week fetus for medical reasons. On a side note, I can't tell you how pleased I am that you at least acknowledged this point, considering how many times I've raised it. Perhaps there is hope for true dialog after all

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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 you, in turn, can see my response which shows the multitudes of organizations willing to contribute to NIH-managed research.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
And there's nothing stopping private organizations from conducting their own research.
I know I've addressed this elsewhere, but I'll do it one more time here.

How about the fear of reprisals, ala denial/removal/reduction of gov't funding and contracts for other research projects? If Bush is willing to suspend habeas corpus, I'm sure he wouldn't bat an eyelash at blacklisting some NGO's that didn't play by his rules.

How about businesses not wanting to waste millions or billions of dollars chasing after a line of research that someone (everyone? No one?) else is working on? One of the major concerns that state gov'ts funding this research have voiced is that without centralized management (ala NIH), two or more groups could be working on the same research at the same time and no one would know. If this is daunting for gov'ts then I can easily see where it would be orders of magnitude moreso for private businesses or vulnerable corporations.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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.
I'll point out once more that you already do (HINT: United States military).

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Pluripotency is more convenient than using a couple different multipotent cells that accomplish the same goal, which is generating any tissue.
Not sure how this contradicts either of my points. You seem to acknowledge that pluripotency is preferable, however this does nothing to address the more common observation that everyone seems to be trying to find a way to emulate embryonic stem cells. I'll ask the question again: If they are not superior, then why the mad dash to be the research group that patents the technology? If the cell type is defunct, it sure would seem as though a lot of people are wasting a lot of time. If ASC are clearly so much better, then wouldn't it make more sense to stop dickering around with ESC? The fact that the research community does not seem to share your (or Dick Cheney's) scientific sensibilities tells me that maybe they know something that you don't.

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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
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.
While this is all good news, it does little to present a valid argument for why research scientists should have been prohibited from using discarded embryos for the past 6 years (and will continue to face such prohibitions for the rest of the current presidency). This is a red herring.

My sincere apologies for the delayed response. I've been chipping away at this for a couple of weeks and I'm glad to have finally completed it. My apologies for any spelling or grammatical errors. Thank you for reading.
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