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Human stem cell research

Major events during 2008

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bullet 2008-FEB-19: Stroke damage repaired by embryonic stem cells --- in rats: Research using adult stem cells had a two decade head start before embryonic stem cell research began. There are currently many practical applications of adult stem cells; however, therapies using embryonic stem cells were not expected for many years in the future. That schedule may have to be modified because of major successes achieved by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

Researchers caused strokes in ten laboratory rats, causing serious disabilities. They then coaxed human embryonic stem cells to develop into neural stem cells. The latter were transplanted into the rats. The cells migrated to the damaged area of the rats' brains, incorporated themselves into surrounding brain tissue. The cells developed into neurons and two other important types of brain cells. Reuters reports:

"The transplanted cells helped repair the stroke damage and enabled the rats to recover lost function in front legs weakened as a result of the stroke."

Referring to the rats' functioning after treatment, one of the leaders of the research, Dr. Gary Steinberg, said:

"It was not quite back to normal but, at least in the rat, it looks like it's going to be close to normal -- very impressive. ... Now remember, this is a rat, not a human. We still have to make that step. But if we could achieve that kind of recovery in humans, we would have a great therapy."

The researchers hope that this approach will be used on human patients within five years. 1

bullet2008-JUL-09: MI: Ballot measure: CitizenLink reports that a measure to expand embryonic stem-cell research in Michigan appears headed to the ballot in November. 2 The proposed constitutional amendment "08-2" would:
bullet Expand use of human embryos for any research permitted under federal law subject to the following limits: the embryos:
bullet were created for fertility treatment purposes;
bullet are not suitable for implantation or are in excess of clinical needs;
bullet would be discarded unless used for research;
bullet were donated by the person seeking fertility treatment.
bulletProvide that stem cells cannot be taken from human embryos more than 14 days after cell division begins.
bulletProhibit any person from selling or purchasing human embryos for stem cell research.
bulletProhibit state and local laws that prevent, restrict or discourage stem cell research, future therapies and cures. 3

On election day 2008-NOV, the measure narrowly passed, 53% to 47%. 4

Related essays on this web site:

Cloning and stem cell research are unrelated lines of research. However, they both start with an ovum and initially use some of the same techniques.

bulletWhen does human personhood begin?
bulletHuman cloning
bulletPre-implantation genetic diagnosis
bulletTherapeutic cloning

References used in the above essay:

  1. "Stem cells repair stroke damage in rats," Reuters, 2008-FEB-19, at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com
  2. "Michigan voters to decide on 'Dr. Death' and embryonic stem cells," Citizen Link newsletter, 2008-JUL-08.
  3. "inkslwc,"Michigan Ballot for 2008: Proposal 2: Stem Cell Research," Republican Ranting, 2008-SEP-18, at: http://inkslwc.wordpress.com/
  4. "Michigan Stem Cell Initiative (2008)," Ballotpedia, 2008-NOV-10, at: http://ballotpedia.org/

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Copyright © 2008 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2008-FEB-22
Latest update: 2010-SEP-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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