Sunday, June 17, 2007

More stem cell stuff

A few diverse comments about stem cells are included.

I. From the journal Science, 8 June 2007

Science volume 316

page 1404-->

Teams reprogram differentiated cells--without eggs

two papers in Nature (Yamanaka and Jaenisch) and one in Cell Stem Cell (Hochedlinger)

page 1422-->

letter by Shane Smith et al. with words:

Clearly, enrollment of an experimental therapy in a clinical trial does not mean that it is an effective therapy.

Prentice admitted that some of his citations were unwarranted.

There is a response by David Prentice and Gene Tarne at pages 1422-23.

II. From the Economist, 31 March 2007

Three journalists--Eve Herold, Seth Shulman and Cynthia
Fox--each suggest that this [stem cell research] is a new topic that has been hijacked by a small group of political hotheads in America.


Using arguments similar to those made by Chris Mooney in "The
Republican War on Science", Mr Shulman, by contrast, considers the political
misrepresentations of stem-cell science.


Mr Hwang's fakery damaged the integrity of a science that could
ill afford any bad news. Meanwhile, doctrinal activists still sing out their
contradictions and exaggerations.

III. Californiastemcellreport

Further to a comment on IPBiz and a post on the stemcellreport, one IPBiz reader wrote of the stemcell commentary:

I did read their response...which was basically "we don't care about what Larry cares about". You got slammed, dissed, ignored.

IPBiz notes that discussion of the CHA-RMI grant has pretty much disappeared. There was an earlier commentary at The Scientist. Separately, neither californiastemcellreport nor the San Diego Union-Tribune, who purport to favor open research on embryonic stem cells are discussing the patent applications of Jeanne Loring, a California researcher who attempted to claim more broadly than did Thomson / WARF. This is not an issue of the re-examination of the Thomson patents, but rather concerns whether californiastemcellreport and the San Diego Union-Tribune are "walking like they are talking." Loring submitted a declaration on behalf of FTCR/PubPat in the re-exam of the Thomson / WARF patents. The declaration was procedurally improper and explicitly ignored by the USPTO, but does raise the issue of whether HER patent applications were obvious in view of the prior art.

IV. Hybrids

Reuters reports: Making human-animal embryos for scientific experiments should be allowed because of the benefits to science and medicine, British experts said in a report released for Sunday, June 17. The combinations would include animal eggs and the nucleus, containing the genetic material, of a human being, or human embryos that carry the genetic material of an animal, the independent advisory body the Academy of Medical Sciences. said.

Reuters had a quote: "Provided good laboratory practice is rigorously followed, research involving cytoplasmic hybrids or other inter-species embryos offers no significant safety risks over and above regular cell culture research," said Martin Bobrow of Britain's Wellcome Trust, who chaired the panel making the recommendations.

Reuters also noted: Researchers also routinely make chimeras -- animals that contain the genetic material from more than one individual. These include animals that carry human genes, most commonly mice engineered with human genes that are used to study disease.

"We found no current scientific reasons to generate 'true' hybrid embryos by mixing human and animal gametes (eggs and sperm). However, given the speed of this field of research, the working group could not rule out the emergence of scientifically valid reasons in the future," Bobrow said.

See also bioedge:

But Harvard researcher Chad Cowan says that it will change the field: "The most amazing thing about these papers is you now take this whole idea of reprogramming out of the hands of cloning specialists and put it into the hands of anyone who can do molecular and cell biology." Now the race is on to apply the technique to human cells. "We are working very hard -- day and night," says Yamanaka.

Executives from embryonic stem cell companies were not optimistic about the new technique. Because it involves tinkering with the genome, it could be dangerous, in the opinion of Thomas B. Okarma, of Geron. Getting approval from regulatory authorities would become far more complicated. And the head of the team at the Whitehead Institute, Rudolph Jaenisch, still insists that therapeutic cloning remains "absolutely necessary".


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