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Old 01-30-2009, 06:26 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2002
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Embryonic Stem Cells Get a Boost

Its been 10 years since embryonic stem cells were first isolated and the Bush administration subsequently relented to superstitious agenda and all but shelved the research that explores their potential to save lives.

Embryonic stem cells were a dime a dozen thanks to in vitro fertilization, which produces more embryos than needed. The Bush administration did what it could to block advancement in the research and technology surrounding stem cells, citing superstition and fallacious logic -they argued that surplus embryonic stem cells were better suited for the garbage disposal than saving lives (the fallacy), ostensibly because each blastocyst had its own soul (the superstition).

Now, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Geron in Menlo Park, California, permission to conduct a safety test in a handful of patients with a recent spinal cord injury.

The treatment will likely not "allow patients to jump out of wheelchairs and play soccer," but it is certainly an advancement in the research necessary to work out the potential to save lives, improve quality of lives, and correct serious injuries and illnesses that would otherwise leave patients paralyzed and disabled.

Geron will be testing oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, precursors to some nervous system cells the company developed from one of the original human embryonic stem cell lines [...] Eight to 10 patients will receive the cells a week or two after a serious spinal cord injury. The goal is not to create new nerve fibers but to support those still intact by making the nerve insulator myelin. To prevent rejection, patients will take immune-suppressing drugs for about 60 days. Although the primary goal is to assess safety, Geron will be looking for hints that the cells had an effect--for example, improving bladder and bowel function, sensation, or mobility.
There are some concerns among the scientific and medical community, but about the timeliness of the clinical trial and the worry that this test might not be a good first trial of stem cell therapy since there are some potential risks of tumors developing that are already part of some hypotheses in this type of therapy. However, most scientists agree that this is an important milestone in stem cell research and that the first "cure" demonstrated will likely demolish most opposition and superstitious-based skepticism regarding the use of stem cells.

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