Poll of a Billion Monkeys

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Monkey Is as Monkey Doo

Invisible Hand - Monkey Is as Monkey-Doo

From Stingray:

I posted this article because I happen to agree with Sherley's conclusions based upon my own research into actual and on-going Stem Cell research projects.

I am not against all Stem Cell research or attempts to develop medical cures, because those projects showing the most promise involve either mature (adult) cells or stem cells rendered from the host organism.

But the attempt to develop cures from any stem cells, say stem cell lines derived from a creature other than the original host creature is a canard. That is if you were sick, reverse development of your own cells to a more undifferentiated state, or even use of derivatives of your own mature cells show medical promise, but use of cells from another creature to develop a cure for you shows no, extremely limited, or only temporary promise (at best).

I suspect this is for both biological and genetic reasons, humans - indeed all creatures are built with fail-safes which prevent the direct adoption of alien tissue, no matter the state of maturity or immaturity, from being properly assimilated without a host of secondary problems.

Your own tissues however, reconfigured, would simply be out of time phase with the surrounding tissue (meaning would simply be at a different level of maturity if undifferentiated), which would also create a cluster of assimilation problems, but not nearly as many as the legion of problems associated with alien tissue and cellular and genetic structures not native to the original host. By using tissue from the original host there is no danger of typical rejection processes, adoption of the tissue is automatic, and assimilation (excluding possible states of maturity issues) is assured regarding the surrounding tissue.

Obviously, as even common sense would dictate, the very best and most promising cures will be derived from the cellular and genetic structures native to the host organism (assuming there is no congenital defect, then you would simply have to screen the tissue or genetic material used until one finds structures free of defects), and the attempt to graft alien tissue (structures or genetic material derived from a source other than the host) will go nowhere fast, and indeed if the promise(s) of generalized, undifferentiated stem cells were easily resolvable then we would already have derived miracles cures, instead of countless experiments which might someday offer promise if pursued indefinitely.

The truth is the entire problem with the stem cell debate, as well as with the debate on reverse engineering cellular states and structures is not how can it be done, but where should the tissue, cells and genetic material come from? If I were suffering from some disorder then the obvious cellular and genetic answer to my problem lies within my own tissues, my healthy tissues. My healthy tissues, properly rearranged and reformatted would lead to cures in almost every way properly efficacious for me and my particular disorder. If however alien tissue is introduced into my body, no matter the cellular state, the inherent genetic differences will still trigger a host of problems, as regards rejection, immune system functioning, infection, tumor development, improper assimilation, adoption of, replication of, and reproduction of the alien tissue, and so forth, probably for the rest of the life of the hosting organism.

Sherley is exactly correct; the problems inherent in stem cells derived from any source are manifold and likely to create cancers and systemic disorders for years and years to come in any host organism.

The answer however is simple and easy. Use healthy cells from the host organism (the same creature who suffers the disease or disorder), reorganize or rearrange or transform those healthy cells as needed and you avoid a whole legion of medical, genetic, cellular, tissue, and moral problems.

Of course in modern science the moral answer is usually immediately considered as somehow suspect, because ultimately most of the people who engage in the debate are not interested in either evidence or true science, just "really cool ideas," politics, research grants, and program funding. Most casual readers on the subject don't know any more than they have heard in the popular media, and have not done any research on such matters either, other than in popular mass market and trade magazines. They have never done real science, never run an experiment of any kind, have never read a technical paper, or even critiqued a scientific idea. They swallow their "hard science" like a calf at the teat of a Mad Cow, and if you attach the term science to the words you write then you can sell them blood from a gooney bird as if it were Kamchatka mammoth droppings. They derive their science from People magazine and the New York Times and Internet message boards. Sixteen year old kids think they understand science (and somehow they have confused this word in their minds with "life," as if the terms were interchangeable except for the variation in spelling) and are the most brilliant generation ever because they grow up on the Internet (they don't even know of the day when the Internet was an actual and real academic and governmental research and exchange network) and read articles posted from another friend who got the article from another friend who got it from a "social network" (in which you never actually meet the people you socialize with, just exchange safe-data) where it was posted from an original article on CNN. Imaginary networks of supposedly like-minded people, endlessly recycling the same erroneous data - the entire sum total of their research and base of personal experience and knowledge on any given issue. So it must be true no matter what the actual evidence. I net therefore I know.

But, c'est la vie. That's life in modern times.
Monkey is as monkey do.

8 comments:

beepbeepitsme said...

Stem Cell Research In Australia
http://beepbeepitsme.blogspot.com/2006/12/stem-cell-research-in-australia.html

Jack said...

I'm afraid I searched in vain for a cure at the link you left.

Saw a lot of articles on politics though.

Confusing hopes and best wishes politics with an empirical cure derived from embryonic stem cell lines is like deriving a sugar tart from more pepper.

But keep plugging plugger. You'll get there as soon as you get there. That's a moral by the way.

Kinda like if I do it long enough then I'm bound to learn what I'm doing, even if I never learn that lesson. I assume morals work even when you're down under, or even upsidaisy.

Steve said...

Jack: I'm glad you posted this article because it brings up a very good topic concerning the political climate these days. I just so happen to take the opposite view point as you, which means that we get to start another healthy debate!

My main premise here is that arguments comparing the viability of adult stem cells to the lack of treatments derived from embryonic stem cells are inherently flawed, as they are comparing a decades-old (1964, to be exact) and fully funded line of research to a immature (1998, to be exact) line of research with incredibly limited funding. Furthermore, I hold that the promise of embryonic stem cells is not prophaganda, but science. There are several inherent differences between embryonic and adult stem cells that make the latter more viable for a broader range of diseases and ailments.

Mainly:

Embryonic Stem cells have a broader "range" than adult stem cells, and can be implemented in areas that adult cells cannot, such as the nervous system therapies.

Stem cells derived from the patient's own cells are unable to treat diseases that are genetic in nature, as these cells would by nature contain the same genes that caused the disease in the first place.

As to the limitations imposed upon U.S. stem cell researchers: All of the 60 available stem cell lines in the US have been found to be contaminated with non-human molecules (such as mice) from the culture medium used to grow the cells (January 23, 2005 Nature Medicine) This effects the purity of the cells and the corresponding research. While I was unable to find a source citing this as the reason for tumors, I am certain it is not helping.

As to your argument that adult stem cells have produced therapies while embryonic stem cells have not: adult stem cells have been the subject of research for decades (1964), whereas research on isolated human embryonic stem cells began in 1998. Furthermore, federal funds are only available for 60 lines of embryonic stem cells, which is a nearly inconsequential amount given the amount of adult stems cells and federal funding available for that area of research. This argument is essentially looking at a less mature and artificially stagnated line of research and comparing it to a mature and readily-funded line of research, which is not a fair comparison by any means. I would be interested to learn how many usable therapies were derived from adult stem cells a mere 8 years after their development. My guess, however, is none.

As to the morality of embryonic stem cell: I find it hard to make the argument that using the 50 - 150 cells derived 4 days after artificial fertilization in fertility clinics to aid in the survivability and quality of life in living human beings is wrong when the other option for these cells is the trash can! Nobody is arguing to kill babies or fertilize eggs simply to derive stem cells; instead, researchers simply want to catch unused cells before the fertility clinics trash them and use them towards a positive goal. I find it interesting that the same people aruging for the sanctity and protection of the "lives" that these stem cells comprise are not simultaneously arguing to outlaw fertility clinics; after all, it is these institutions that are creating and trashing so many of these "lives," not stem cell researchers. On a side note and strictly for comparison purposes, it is interesting to note that there are 50 - 150 cells in a typical embryonic stem cell, and 100,000 cells in the brain of a fly (Sam Miller, Newsweek).

Regardless of your moral viewpoint on the topic, embryonic stem cells have been shown to be capable of truly incredible treatments; treatments which adult stem cells are simply not capable of. Despite all of the admitadly over-optimistic hype, this is not up for debate; it is scientific fact.

Jack said...

Yes, Steve, but that's not really what I said.

What I said was, and I've studied this extensively including reading many of the actual technical papers on much of the research, Sherley is right. Embryonic stem cells introduced form alien tissue, that is derived form stem cells not native to the host produce mutations and cancerous tumors and disease and disorders, not cures. Just as transplanted organs, if not controlled regularly with anti-rejection medicines, produce immune system disorders, rejection, and cancers.

Embryonic stems cells derived form any stem cell line are bound to fail eventually due to the genetic differences, and eventual rejection.

That's just the way it is. The way the science actually appears to work, and it is only logical and matches everything else we know about genetic and tissue compatibility.

Now if you could derive stem cells form the host creature, reverse engineer (or de or undifferentiate adult cells and mature stem cells) from the host creature, then I've no problem with those techniques, and they are as certainly feasible as any other procedure, because they are being done now, and those techniques seem to work.

As would be expected. If I could take your nerve tissue and regenerate it then that would be thousands of times superior to taking embryonic stem cells from a monkey, an aborted fetus, a stranger walking down the street, or the friend of your second cousin's boyfriend.

Anytime you undertake a scientific endeavor you want to pursue the most logical and productive avenue of advancement because ten to one that's the one that will actually work. Actually if it is truly the most productive then it always works, by definition.

I was not and if you go back and reread what I said arguing against embryonic stem cells but against embryonic stem cells not native to the host organism.

If I had nerve damage, let's say, and my adult stem cells could be render into an undifferentiated state then I certainly wouldn't refuse such stem cells because they might lead to viable tissue or reconstructing neural pathways. But I would have no interest at all, either for moral or scientific reason in trying to regenerate my tissue with tissue which is not derived from me or someone extremely genetically close to me, and in that case I would never harm anyone close to me just to help myself. As a matter of fact I have some slight nerve damage due to a previously broken back (I'm not paralyzed and still do much but I'm partially crippled compared to my younger days when I could run marathons or hike in heavy packs and so forth) and would never harm anyone around me or even a stranger to derive a cure (not a treatment, but a real cure, which if stem cells really work they should be able to produce) unless they freely volunteered to do that for me, and then I'd have to think very hard and long about the risks both to them and myself. For one thing, would it work and if so, for how long? All that could be avoided by simply pursuing altering my own healthy tissues.

For one thing if it generated enough tissue inside of me then my own immune system will attack it, it will eventually mutate into a cancer, or I will have to undergo extensive anti-rejection treatments. All of which can be easily avoided by simply pursuing more viable pathways and researching productive avenues like auto-transformation of the cellular states of my own tissues.

I think that's about all I meant to say, but I guess it doesn't matter right now.
I've gotta hit the sack now, little sleep, 16 hour work days, some patrolling, and a lot of outside project demands have hit me hard. I'm lucky to get 3 hours a night recently.

I'm in my forties and even though I recently scored a 28.9 on an internet Real Age test, which I rubbed in my wife's nose, I still can't go without sleep altogether like I used.

I'm bugging out and hitting the sack.

See ya.

By the way if you want go here:

http://themissal.blogspot.com/2006/10/b-reader-in-preparation.html

and let me know if you think this should be a separate blog or if I should incorporate it into The Missal.

I'd like to make it into a separate blog, but I've got so much other consulting and crap to do, I'm thinking now that I should just make it a separate section of this blog.

Steve said...

First, as to the planned new blog / section of this blog: I would recommend beginning anew. The articles you have planned for the new blog are very cohesive, and would compliment each other well if given a designated domain. Adding a new section to an already-existing blog would take away form said cohesion. I hope this helps!

As to your arguments: I think we both missed each other's points. I was simply arguing that it should not be an "either / or" situation concerning adult and embryonic stem cells, as they can be used for entirely different and mutually exclusive situations. As for the tumor development; if every time researchers hit a road block such as this one and discontinued research as a result, our medical prowess would not be half of what it is. We are able to overcome rejection with organ transplants on a very regular basis and I see no reason that, given enough time and research, scientists will find away around this problem as well. There is enough promise from embryonic stem cells that I do not think tumor development is a viable reason to cease all research. Instead, I think it is reason to increase funding so that we can get the problem fixed and start treating diseases.

I, too, would prefer to use my own stem cells when undergoing a treatment. This is, of course, provided that my stem cells can treat my ailment. In the event that they could not, I would like to be able to look towards embryonic stem cells instead.

Jack said...

We're gonna hav'ta agree to disagree on which direction we think the science will most productively lead.

But I wanted to thank you for your advice on the B-Reader.

A separate blog seems to be the consensus of those who have contacted me, friend and stranger alike.
So thanks.

I dread the work involved but, c'est la vie, ain't it?

Sorry it took me so long to respond Steve, but with my work schedule I can't always respond immediately, and I'm trying to take more time off on the weekends, you know, to delay the first heart attack and all.

Steve said...

Good luck to you, Jack. And keep avoiding those heart attacks!

Jack said...

"And keep avoiding those heart attacks!"


Well you know, Monkey is as Monkey do...