Called revolutionary and “too good to be true,” a simple way to turn ordinary cells into stem cells has everyone excited – and some cautious. Note: see Update.How can you turn an ordinary adult cell into a stem cell? Stress it, say Japanese researchers Sasai and Obokata, the new dynamite duo of stem cell creation. Their lab found that by giving cells a mild acid bath, a gentle squeeze or an exposure to a bacterium, the cells revert to pluripotent state – even more so than the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) created by Yamanaka in 2006 that won him a Nobel Prize (9/14/13). The new method, that worked with mouse cells and is now being tested on human cells, promises to be quicker and easier than other methods, and might bring promises of regenerative medicine closer. The researchers are calling their method STAP for “stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency.” For details, see the BBC News, Live Science and two stories on Nature News. The original paper is published in Nature Jan 30. The BBC News added an article containing a video profile of Dr. Haruko Obokata at work in her lab.Since the cells can be made from adult cells, they appear to be ethically clean. But if the cells turn out to be not just pluripotent but “totipotent” (able to become any cell), what happens if labs can turn them into an embryonic state? Will it reignite the cloning wars? New Scientist worries that ethical concerns are lurking behind the good news:Regardless of whether the technique can or cannot be used for cloning, its apparent simplicity makes it likely that mavericks will again emerge with publicity-seeking plans to clone a human – or even with a baby that is claimed to be a clone.Such antics would poison the promise of this advance before it even begins. This is an area where passions run high, and consensus will be hard to find. So the time is ripe for renewed discussion of the uses of stem cell technologies. We should make a clear-eyed start on it now.Most stem cell articles mention that work with embryonic stem cells (ESC) is “ethically charged.” Despite the progress with ethically-neutral iPSC technology that would seem to make ESC work superfluous, work on ESCs has continued. Just this week, Science Daily reported a new method that “allows for large-scale generation of human embryonic stem cells of high clinical quality,” supposedly without destroying any human embryos. The cells, though, are extracted from 8-cell blastulas from in vitro fertilization (IVF) embryos not intended for transplantation.ESC research has left legal and financial woe in its wake. This week and last, Nature revisited the fallout of the 2004 Hwang scandal (1/22/14). Science Magazine described a legal battle facing a company that has tried to patent its GM embryonic stem cells. Nature News reported that Advanced Cell Technology, a Massachusetts company formed to run clinical trials using embryonic stem cells, is facing bankruptcy. And to this day, the promised miracle cures with ESCs remain in a nebulous future, while practical applications for iPSCs continue to be found, like hair follicle generation (Science Daily).Update 2/06/14: New Scientist has a picture showing that the STAP technique appears to work with human cells.Update 2/18/14: New Scientist is calling into question the STAP claim, due to irregularities in Obokata’s published images and inability of other labs to reproduce the results. Was this story indeed too good to be true?Update 3/11/14: One of the co-authors is calling for a retraction, Science Magazine says, as “more questions swirl around” the simple stem cell method. See also PhysOrg article and BBC News story.Update 4/01/14: Obokata has been declared guilty of misconduct by a review board, but stands by her claim (Nature). Other labs are going to continue to test the method but without her procedure. See also Medical Xpress article.Update 6/05/14: “STAP” is dead. The author finally retracted the papers (Science Magazine).[Update: The comments below that refer to the STAP method are moot, now that the procedure has been debunked. –Ed.]We should be cautiously optimistic with this news. Maybe it is too good to be true. If true, though, it will be another blow against ESC pushers. Remember their clamor for human embryos in the early years of the Bush presidency? Still dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 and a hot war, President Bush was hammered over his ethical qualms with embryonic stem cells. Scientific organizations unanimously called for him to loosen restrictions on research, saying without ESCs the United States would fall hopelessly behind the rest of the world. Tear-jerking commercials with Christopher Reeve and other disabled people influenced the public to pressure the administration to go along with what the scientists wanted. That all changed gradually, first with the Hwang scandal that made the world aware of the risk of politically motivated fraud in scientific research, then with the promise of iPSCs. Now, with STAP cells, the need for research with human embryos seems poised for obsolescence. Still, when you have materialist scientists believing ethics evolved from ape behavior, vigilance is always required.One idea this discovery suggests is that stemness is a natural bodily response to stress. Watch to see if follow-up research finds that the body is able to regenerate tissues after damage. Perhaps more stressors will be found able to return cells back to their pluripotent state. If so, that would be significant indication of intelligent design. Perhaps all this work on iPSCs was a detour, necessary for increasing our understanding, but not essential for regenerative medicine itself. Researchers would need to just learn how to stimulate the body to do what it was designed to do. Biblical creationists might say that the Fall weakened that ability; perhaps decay of self-regeneration was a cause of aging that accelerated after the Flood as seen in the decreasing lifespans of the patriarchs.Since this story appears to be moving toward a case of research ethics instead of a medical breakthrough, we should avoid giving it any credibility as far as a technique for generating iPSCs. The conclusions about iPSCs themselves, though, still stand. (Visited 20 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
21 January 2013UNAids executive director Michel Sidibe has congratulated South Africa and President Jacob Zuma on the progress the country is making in the fight against HIV and Aids.Zuma met with Sidibe at his residence in Pretoria on Friday. The two discussed various ways in which the fight against the disease in Africa and the world could be intensified.According to the Presidency, Sidibe said he was particularly impressed by the government’s policy interventions and leadership that, since 2009, have led to significant progress in the fight against HIV and Aids in the country.He appealed to South Africa to “lead all efforts in Africa, especially in manufacturing their own medicine and thus reducing dependency on countries outside the continent”.“We appreciate the support of UNAids in this difficult battle against the epidemic,” Zuma said.Zuma reiterated that the country had moved from “very difficult times” on HIV and Aids to a success story in a short space of time.There were now more than 1.7-million South Africans on antiretroviral treatment, with dramatic improvements in life expectancy, Zuma said. “We have about 2 948 public health facilities now initiating patients on antiretroviral treatment compared to 495 in January 2010.”The country had also seen a drop in the rate of new infections, from 1.4% to 0.8%, in the 15-24 age group, while mother-to-child transmission of HIV had been massively reduced, from about 8% in 2008 to 3.5% in 2011.Zuma added that more than 20-million South Africans had been tested for HIV through the government’s HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign since its launch in 2010.“This indicates that the stigma around the disease is being eradicated, which will assist our continued prevention efforts, and the rate of new HIV infections looks set to decline over the coming years as we deepen our existing programmes.”Source: SANews.gov.za
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Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Animal vaccine manufacturers could benefit from the work of two Purdue University researchers who are testing biomaterial made from sweet corn to make vaccines safer.Harm HogenEsch, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Yuan Yao, an associate professor in the College of Agriculture, are developing biomaterial from a non-genetically modified variety of sweet corn to use as an adjuvant in animal vaccines. Adjuvants are substances that are added to vaccines to stimulate an immune response and to improve the performance of vaccines.HogenEsch said commonly used adjuvants like oil emulsions and aluminum have a number of drawbacks.“The conventionally used oil emulsions and aluminum are poorly biodegradable and can induce a long-lasting inflammatory response at the injection site. Especially for food animals, that’s an issue,” he said. “The corn-derived biomaterial being developed and tested at Purdue may address these issues in a sustainable way.”Yao said the adjuvant biomaterial research is being conducted on a naturally occurring variety of corn.“The corn that we are using to generate the biomaterial has been planted for decades without being genetically modified,” he said. “The base material from which the biomaterial is made is nano-size and quickly digestible like a starch. Our research with small animals shows that these specifically designed biomaterial particulates act as an adjuvant by stimulating the interactions with immune cells.”HogenEsch and Yao are looking to develop the corn-based adjuvant with industry partners.“When we have talked with companies, the question comes up how it will work in large animals such as pigs, dogs or poultry,” HogenEsch said. “We are looking to work with industry partners to do more extensive and expensive research to include more animals and further develop the technology.”
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Farm Science Review’s “Ask the Experts” booth covers a wide range of topics affecting agriculture today. A popular subject this year is antibiotic resistance, especially with the impending Veterinary Feed Directive set to take place in January of 2017.“Antibiotics are used often in medicine — human and veterinarian — and they’re great. They do wonderful things and cure lots of diseases. And we don’t want to not use them anymore, but the problem we’re seeing is more resistance developing and this resistance is really limiting our ability to use them, and we don’t want that to happen,” said Demi Mathys, veterinarian and Graduate Research Associate at the Ohio State University during her time on the mic at Ask the Experts. “Some of the things that have been implemented and guidelines that the government has put in place to try to make sure we’re using them appropriately so we can use them longer, in both veterinary medicine and human medicine.”The Veterinary Feed Directive will require veterinarian authorization for antibiotic use in livestock, an issue heavily influencing the swine industry in particular. Mathys said the rule has a range of reasoning.“And that’s really the big take home point is that the veterinarian’s going to be able to recognize what disease process is occurring, being able to know what treatment is appropriate, whether or not an antibiotic should even be given in that situation — which antibiotic because each infection reacts differently — and is killed best by a certain antibiotic, so knowing which antibiotic to use, how long to use it, and how best to give it. Those things are really great questions to ask your veterinarian and they’ll be able to advise you and push you in the right direction,” she said.“Also it’s the best bang for your buck and you’re being able to get the most benefit out of any antibiotic.”Some in the agricultural populous view the most recent push towards antibiotic awareness as delaying the inevitable in that resistance is coming no matter the efforts done now to prevent it. Mathys gave her take.“I think that it not only can be delayed, but it can be solved,” she said. “The more carefully we use antibiotics, the longer we’ll have them to use, and that’s really key. So if we use them too much in human medicine and veterinary medicine, we’ll have them for a shorter period of time. That’s not what we want. We want to be able to get the most out of them and have decades of use. That gives pharmaceutical companies enough time to develop more. When we go through them too quickly, we don’t really have new antibiotics hitting the market yet.”Resistance can often be viewed as a farm by farm ordeal, but new research shows wildlife has been playing a role in the transferring of such resistance.“We’ve been doing a lot of research looking at wildlife as vectors for antibiotic resistance and we’ve pretty much shown there’s a low level of antibiotic resistance in wildlife. They’re not seeing antibiotics at all and so they’re getting it primarily from the farms or from the environment, but they’re also able to move them from place to place which is concerning and something we have to keep in mind,” Mathys said. “Wildlife has often been implemented as vectors of disease and this is kind of just one other thing that is being able to be used for environmental processes. Also, we’ve been looking at a lot of water and watershed movement of antibiotic resistant bacteria can move these bacteria from one place to another, so that’s also an avenue of research we’re looking at.”The Ask the Experts booth hosts professional views and opinions each 20 minutes throughout the day as the Farm Science Review continues.
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