Friday, November 16, 2007

Life Links 11/16/07

Father Thomas Berg on what the cloning monkey business might mean for cell reprogramming among other things.
Reprogramming will certainly now receive an enormous boost from Miltalipov's work. Therapeutic cloning is essentially a process of cell reprogramming: the cytoplasm of the egg reprograms the genetic material in the nucleus of the body cell that is fused to the egg during the cloning procedure. If scientists can learn how monkey egg cells reprogram body cells to an embryonic-like state, this could give us the key to reprogramming human body cells without having to damage or destroy, let alone clone, human embryos.

It should be noted that it took 304 monkey eggs to create just two stem cell lines. If this ratio were roughly equivalent for human cloning experiments. It would require about ten women (with a generous 15 usuable eggs retrieved per woman) to donate eggs to get one stem cell line for each patient. To cure millions of people with this technique, you'd need ten of millions to agree to donate their eggs. To cure tens of millions, you'd need hundreds of millions of women to agree to donate their eggs. Remember this the next time some proponent of human cloning claims embryonic stem cells from cloned human embryos are the next great hope of modern medicine. More like next great hype.

A man in Texas named Jason Lee Cook has been found guilty of misdemeanor assault after his girlfriend claimed he "beat her, stuck a gun to her head and threatened to kill her if she didn't get an abortion."
Assistant Smith County District Attorney Amanda Dillon said Cook took the victim over to his house and assaulted her because he didn't want the baby she was carrying. He had three children and didn't want another, she said.

"If you won't get an abortion, then I'll beat it out of you," the victim reported Cook telling her as he beat her in the stomach, Ms. Dillon said. Cook choked her, slammed her down, pushed her into a door and held a handgun to her head, threatening to kill her if she didn't get an abortion, she told the jurors during closing arguments.

A paper in Nature Clinical Practice Neurology finds the "transplantation of human neural stem cells (hNSCs) leads to functional improvement in a primate model of severe Parkinson's disease. Importantly, their study indicates that the stem cells seem to act not only by replacement of dopaminergic cells, but also by supporting multiple endogenous repair systems."

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