Back   OpEdNews
Post a Comment
Original Content at
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Leader Member, or higher).

January 12, 2008

Major Breakthrough in Stem Cell Medicine from Dr. Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology

By Rick Weiss, Washington Post

The "Holy Grail" of immunology and genetics medicine! This company goes beyond theory, with products in the works for retinal repair and for rebuilding cardiac tissues after heart attacks. In 3 years, these patented procedures will create new branches of physiology/stem call-based medicine; watch some of these scientists get the Nobel Prize for Medicine for 2008! Surely a Democrat President will improve this medical landscape.


Lab Cites Stem Cell Advance
Method of Harvest Could Leave Embryos Undamaged

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 11, 2008; A04

Scientists in Massachusetts said yesterday that they had created several colonies of human embryonic stem cells without harming the embryos from which they were derived, the latest in a series of advances that could speed development of stem-cell-based treatments for a variety of diseases.

In June, scientists in Japan and Wisconsin said they had made cells very similar to embryonic stem cells from adult skin cells, without involving embryos. But that technique so far requires the use of gene-altered viruses that contaminate the cells and limit their biomedical potential.

By contrast, the new work shows for the first time that healthy, normal embryonic stem cells can be cultivated directly from embryos without destroying them.

That means the work should be eligible for federal financing under President Bush's six-year-old policy of funding only stem cell research that does not harm embryos, said study leader Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester.

But that is not likely, said Story Landis, who heads the National Institutes of Health Stem Cell Task Force, which oversees grants for studies on the medically promising cells.

The embryos Lanza used, which were donated for research, appear not to have been damaged, Landis acknowledged. However, she said, "it is impossible to know definitively" that the embryos were not in some subtle way harmed by the experiment. And "no harm" is the basis of the Bush policy, she said.

Landis said the only way to prove that the technique does not harm embryos would be to transfer many of them to women's wombs and see whether the resulting babies were normal. But it would be unethical to do that experiment, she said, so the question cannot be answered.

That standard has Lanza fuming. By all scientifically recognized measures, he said, the embryos -- currently frozen in suspended animation because they were donated for research and not to make babies -- are normal, he said.

"I think the burden of proof lies with the NIH and the Bush administration to show that an embryo was harmed," Lanza said.

The new technique involves carefully removing a single cell from a newly formed eight-cell embryo and coaxing that cell to divide repeatedly until it forms a self-replenishing colony of embryonic stem cells.

Fertility doctors perform such "single cell biopsies" thousands of times every year to test the genetic health of embryos conceived by in vitro fertilization, with little or no apparent effect on the remaining seven cells' ability to develop into a normal baby. The idea is to check the removed cell for DNA defects and transfer to the woman's womb only embryos whose cells test normal.

Lanza's team first reported growing stem cells from individual embryo cells in 2006. But that work was criticized for not showing plainly that the plucked embryos could develop normally, relying instead on evidence from the nation's many fertility clinics that embryos can survive the process.

In the new experiments, he and his colleagues allowed their seven-cell embryos to continue growing in laboratory dishes for as many as five days -- the longest that embryos are typically cultured in fertility clinic labs before being transferred to a woman's uterus.

Of 43 embryos biopsied, 36 (or 84 percent) developed into healthy 5-day-old embryos, as determined by various measures used by the clinics, the team reported in yesterday's online edition of the journal Cell Stem Cell.

That's a survival rate as good as or better than that of fertility clinic embryos generally, whether they are biopsied or not, according to several published reports.

"The biopsy had no effect on the embryos' development," Lanza said, adding that the effort produced five new colonies of stem cells. That is a much higher efficiency than was previously achieved. And because of improved culture conditions, the new stem cells do not need to be fed chemicals from destroyed embryos, as was previously the case.

"It is a technically impressive piece of work," said Douglas A. Melton of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. "They've demonstrated their ability to isolate human embryonic stem cell lines without destruction of the embryos" -- something few scientists thought possible just a few years ago.

"But the fundamental ethical issue remains," said Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University -- namely, how to prove that the approach is inherently harmless.

Very few studies have looked at the outcomes of fertility treatments in which biopsies had been performed, Hudson said. And those that have been done -- including a widely publicized July report that found that fertility clinic clients who had their embryos biopsied had about a 30 percent lower chance of giving birth -- are riddled with flaws, she said.

But one thing is clear, Hudson said: "Embryo biopsy is tricky and requires extraordinarily good hands and technical skills. And even in the best hands, embryos are sometimes lost."

As long as that risk is there, funding under Bush's policy will not be available, with one possible exception, Landis said.

Although the NIH will not fund Lanza's method of making stem cells, she said, the agency might fund studies on the cells themselves once they are isolated from the embryos with private money and the embryos are shown to be healthy.

Asked who would make that funding decision, Landis said it would be up to NIH officials. But pressed to say whether the White House would influence that determination, she paused.

"I'm sure they would have an interest in such a decision," she said.

Submitter: Stephen Fox

Submitters Website:

Submitters Bio:

Early in the 2016 Primary campaign, I started a Facebook group: Bernie Sanders: Advice and Strategies to Help Him Win! As the primary season advanced, we shifted the focus to advancing Bernie's legislation in the Senate, particularly the most critical one, to protect Oak Flat, sacred to the San Carlos Apaches, in the Tonto National Forest, from John McCain's efforts to privatize this national forest and turn it over to Rio Tinto Mining, an Australian mining company whose record by comparison makes Monsanto look like altar boys, to be developed as North America's largest copper mine. This is monstrous and despicable, and yet only Bernie's Save Oak Flat Act (S2242) stands in the way of this diabolical plan.

Now, we have added "in 2020!" to the group name, as at this point Bernie Sanders is still the best to succeed Trump.

I am an art gallery owner in Santa Fe since 1980 selling Native American painting and NM landscapes, specializing in modern Native Ledger Art.

I have always been intensely involved in politics, going back to the mid's 1970's, being a volunteer lobbyist in the US Senate for the Secretary General of the United Nations, then a "snowball-in-hell" campaign for US Senate in NM in the late 70's, and for the past 15 years have worked extensively to pressure the FDA to rescind its approval for aspartame, the neurotoxic artificial sweetener metabolized as formaldehyde. This may be becoming a reality to an extent in California, which, under Proposition 65, is considering requiring a mandatory Carcinogen label on all aspartame products

Bills to ban aspartame were in the State Senates of New Mexico and Hawaii, but were shut down by corporate lobbyists (particularly Monsanto lobbyists in Hawaii and Coca Cola lobbyists in New Mexico).

For several years, I was the editor of New Mexico Sun News, and my letters to the editor and op/eds in 2016 have appeared in NM, California, Wisconsin, New York, Maryland, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and many international papers, on the subject of consumer protection. Our best issue was 10 days before Obama won in 2008, when we published a special early edition of the paper declaring that Obama Wins! This was the top story on CNN for many hours, way back then....

My highest accomplishment thus far is a UN Resolution to create a new Undersecretary General for Nutrition and Consumer Protection, strongly supported ten years ago by India and 53 cosponsoring nations, but shut down by the US Mission to the UN in 2008. To read it, google UNITED NATIONS UNDERSECRETARY GENERAL FOR NUTRITION, please. These are not easy battles, any of them, and they require a great deal of political and journalistic focus. OpEdNews is the perfect place for those who have a lot to say, so much that they exceed the limiting capacities of their local and regional newspapers. Trying to go beyond the regional papers seems to require some kind of "inside" credentials, as if you had to be in a club of corporate-accepted writers, and if not, you are "from somewhere else," a sad state of corporate induced xenophobia that should have no place in America in 2020!
This should be a goal for every author with something current to say: breaking through yet another glass ceiling, and get your say said in editorial pages all over America. Certainly, this was a tool that was essentially ignored in 2016, and cannot be ignored in the big elections of 2020.

In my capacity as Editor of the Santa Fe Sun News, Fox interviewed Mikhail Gorbachev: