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    The Secret Life Of Embryonic Stem Cells
    By Lee Silver | May 23rd 2008 08:44 AM | 3 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    In the contentious political debate over embryo stem (ES) cell research, both proponents and opponents begin with the premise that "embryos are destroyed for their cells," as President Bush claims and non-partisan journalists repeat frequently in stem cell news stories.

    It's only when partisans get beyond this premise that opinions diverge. Proponents of ES cell research argue that embryo destruction is justified based on the promise of extraordinary medical advances. In contrast, the President and his supporters describe ES cell derivation as "the taking of innocent human life," which is "always immoral." And yet, in strictly biological terms, the conventional wisdom is wrong. No life is being "taken" or destroyed when embryos are transformed into ES cells.

    To understand the relationship between embryos and ES cells, it is critical to understand the process of development that is initiated by fertilization. The single-cell embryo undergoes multiple rounds of division giving rise to about 100 cells after five to six days. At this stage, the cells along the surface undergo biochemical changes that eliminate their potential to differentiate into anything other than the placenta. And in the center of the embryo, only about two dozen cells retain the ability to develop into every tissue and organ that makes up the human body proper.

    These central cells are, by definition, embryonic stem cells. They -- and they alone -- will divide and morph into the entire fetus and child. These cells are also the ones that can be retrieved and grown in a Petri dish.

    If you and I and every other human being emerged entirely from a group of ES cells in the embryo, and ES cells in a Petri dish are biologically equivalent to ES cells in an embryo, then what is destroyed in the process of growing ES cells? According to conventional wisdom, ES cells do not have the potential to become a mature organism because they can't produce the placenta, which is required to nourish the fetus to term. (In fact, human ES cells -- unlike mouse ES cells -- have been tweaked into producing placental tissue.) And yet, over a decade ago, the Canadian embryologists Andras Nagy and Janet Rossant invented an experimental trick to overcome this deficiency.

    The trick is to sandwich a dozen or so ES cells in-between two freshly created embryos manipulated so that each of their cells contains double the normal diploid (2X) number of chromosomes. The tetraploid (4X) embryonic cells are entirely incompetent in regards to fetal tissue development, but they retain the capacity to form a normal placenta. In the presence of this placenta, ES cells take over full responsibility for developing all the tissues of the fetus. With this protocol, Nagy and Rossant succeeded in creating viable, fertile animals that were -- in their words -- "completely ES-cell derived."

    Based on the standard definition of an embryo as "a group of cells arising from the egg that has the potential to develop into a complete organism" (according to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences), a bunch of ES cells could be referred to as an embryo. But this logic could complicate the current political battle to allow federal funding of the research. Simply put, if one believes that a human embryo is sacred, one must hold ES cells to be sacred as well.

    Still, isn't it true that human embryos must be ripped apart to obtain their internal ES cells? The answer is "no." Two years ago, in a feat hailed by Nature magazine, the Chicago embryologist Yury Verlinsky coaxed whole four-day old human embryos into becoming ES cells under a specified set of culture conditions. No biological life was destroyed in the process. Instead, the embryos were transformed directly into a living stage defined by the capacity to divide indefinitely without differentiating.

    If neither biological life nor developmental potential need be "destroyed" in the process of deriving ES cells, why do so many people insist otherwise? The answer comes from the common non-scientific interpretation of the word "life" as a vitalistic entity rather than a biological one. In the view of many fundamentalist Christians and Catholics, a single-cell embryo is a human being, while human ES cells are not even forms of human life.

    The disconnect between public and scientific spheres of thought is aptly illustrated by open discussions occurring among scientists who work with non-contentious mouse ES cells. This past summer, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiated a $50 million program to create a centralized resource of 10,000 mouse strains, each containing a mutation in a different disease-causing gene. NIH wants to make these special animals freely available to researchers, but as Science magazine explained, "it would be most economical to avoid trafficking in live mice."

    The proposed alternative is "to maintain the [mutant animals] as embryonic stem (ES) cells: clumps of tissue that can be frozen down and later grown up into full-fledged mice." The feasibility of this goal increased dramatically with the December 2006 Nature Biotechnology report of a highly efficient method for generating "mice fully derived from gene-targeted embryonic stem
    cells" that eliminates the requirement for tetraploidization.

    To mouse geneticists, ES cells are a convenient method for "maintaining" embryos, not destroying them. But scientists who work with human cells have been less than forthcoming about these pesky details of biology. It's not that they think ES cells per se are deserving of greater respect. On the contrary, most cell biologists think that embryo progenitors are deserving of no more respect than the ES cells they grow into. But voicing such an opinion is politically unwise in America where the meaning of life -- from beginning to end -- is still defined by religion, not biology.

    Nevertheless, in today's "flat world" (to use Thomas Freidman's term), the research won't be held back. It will simply blossom in societies more enlightened than our own.

    Comments

    What Are Life Cells?

    Life Sciences Should Enlighten Old Concepts Of "Cells"

    A. Recent paradigms of old concepts

    I find today, Aug 2 2008, looking at eurekalert, at least three glaring examples that demonstrate clearly and glaringly that it's about time that Life Sciences Should Enlighten Old Concepts Of "Stem Cells":

    1- "Survival of the fittest: even cancer cells follow the laws of evolution"

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-08/foas-sot080108.php

    Of course, it's the cells' drivers, the genes-genome...

    2- "Harvard-Columbia team creates neurons from ALS patient's skin cells"

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-07/cumc-htc072808.php

    Of course, the shape and functionalities of the OCM (outer cell membrane) and genes are dictated by their "cultural", survival requirements-experience, circumstances as determined by their genes-genome drivers...

    3- "Stanford fruit-fly study adds weight to theories about another type of adult stem cell"

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-07/sumc-sfs072808.php

    Of course, it's not about "another type of stem cell" but about the elementary conceptions of what life is and what "cells" are...

    B. The OCM, outer cell membrane, is but an organ of the genome, which IS the organism

    1- Genes are primal and genomes are evolved multigenes organisms

    Earth Life: 1. a format of temporarily constrained energy, retained in temporary constrained genetic energy packages in forms of genes, genomes and organisms 2. a real virtual affair that pops in and out of existence in its matrix, which is the energy constrained in Earth's biosphere.

    Earth organism: a temporary self-replicable constrained-energy genetic system that supports and maintains Earth's biosphere by maintenance of genes.

    Gene: a primal Earth's organism.

    Genome: a multigenes organism consisting of a cooperative commune of its member genes.

    Cellular organisms: mono- or multi-celled earth organisms.

    2- Update of life sciences conceptions is now feasible and urgently desirable

    - Earth's biosphere phenomenon is a distant relative of black holes, a form of constrained
    energy pocket.

    - First were independent individual genes, Earth's primal organisms.

    - Genes aggregated cooperatively into genomes, multigenes organisms, with genomes' organs.

    - Simultaneously or consequently genomes evolved protective and functional membranes, organs.

    - Then followed cellular organisms, with a variety of outer-cell membranes shapes and
    functionalities.

    C. It is culture, life experience, that modifies genetics,
    not genetics that modifies culture

    Genes, Earth's primal organisms even when they are interdependent members of their genome communal cooperative, evolve in response to their survival requirements, which are THEIR CULTURE.

    Darwinism started with pre-Archaea individual independent genes, their evolution driven by their culture.

    From http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81pQcU1dLBbHgtjQjxG_Q--?cq=1&p=409

    - Genes are organisms, interdependent members of genes communes, genomes, all continuously undergoing evolution directed towards survival as long as possible, for maintaining Earth's biosphere as long as possible, which is the reason and target-purpose of their, and our, existence.

    - Culture is a ubiquitous biological entity and is the major effector of genetic evolution, of capabilities and attributes selected for survival.

    - The major course of natural selection is NOT via random mutations followed by survival, but via interdependent, interactive and interenhencing selection of biased replication routes by genes at their alternative-splicing-steps junctions, effected by the cultural feedback of the 3rd stratum celled organisms to their 1st stratum genes organisms via their 2nd stratum genome organisms.

    http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81pQcU1dLBbHgtjQjxG_Q--?cq=1&p=372

    Puzzled why even Darwinians do not comprehend that Darwinism starts all the way back with Life's day one, with the pre-archaea not-yet-genomed-celled genes...

    D. On natural selection

    a- "Comparing Patterns of Natural Selection across Species Using Selective Signatures"

    http://genetics.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1...

    Author Summary

    "Natural selection promotes the survival of the fittest individuals within a species. Over many generations, this may result in the maintenance of ancestral traits (conservation through purifying selection), or the emergence of newly beneficial traits (adaptation through positive selection). At the genetic level, long-term purifying or positive selection can cause genes to evolve more slowly, or more rapidly, providing a way to identify these evolutionary forces. While some genes are subject to consistent purifying or positive selection in most species, other genes show unexpected levels of selection in a particular species or group of species—a pattern we refer to as the “selective signature” of the gene. In this work, we demonstrate that these patterns of natural selection can be mined for information about gene function and species ecology. In the future, this method could be applied to any set of related species with fully sequenced genomes to better understand the genetic basis of ecological divergence."

    b- From "Life, Tomorrow's Comprehension"

    http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81pQcU1dLBbHgtjQjxG_Q--?cq=1&p=372

    Chapter II

    Natural Selection Is A Two Level Interdependent Affair

    1) Evolution ensues from genome/genes modifications ("mutations"), inherently ever more of them as new functional options arise for the organism.

    2) Modifications of genome's functional capabilities can be explained by the 3rd-stratum, cellular organisms' culture-life-experience feedbacks, via its genome, its 2nd-stratum organism, to the relevant gene(s), it's prime-stratum organism. The route-modification selection of a replicating gene, when it is at its alternative-splicing-steps junctions, is biased by the feedback gained by the genome. THIS IS HOW EVOLUTION COMES ABOUT.

    3) The challenge now is to figure out the detailed seperate steps involved in introducing and impressing the 3rd-stratum organism's experiences (culture) feedbacks on its founding parents' genome's genes, followed by the detailed seperate steps involved in biasing-directing the genes to prefer-select the biased-favored splicing.

    4) I find it astonishing that only very few persons, non-professional as well as professional biologists-evolutionists, have the clear conception that selection for survival occurs on two interdependent levels - (a) during the life of the 3rd-stratum progeny organism in its environment, and (b) during the life of its genome, which is also an organism, 2nd-stratum. Most, if not all, persons think - incorrectly - that evolution is about randomly occurring primal-stratum genes modifications ("mutations") followed with selection by survival of the progeny 3rd-stratum organism in its environment. Whereas actually evolution is the interdependent , interactive and interenhencing selection at all the above levels.

    end chapter II

    Dov Henis

    http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81pQcU1dLBbHgtjQjxG_Q--?cq=1

    If some researcher could devise a procedure for extracting a few cells from the embryos without damaging the embryos, then most of the controversa and ethics issues could be greatly reduced.

    Is anyone in the stem cell research community devising methods of extracting a few cells from an embryo, without damaging the embryo and using those cells for all kind of treatment? I am reading this book titled " Ageless- A Stem Cell Mystery" . This is a great book because it stimulated my interest in this subject. There is a website devoted to this book and the address for the site is www.ageless-stemcellmystery.com. You can find a lot of information about this book on this website

    Greed Cancer Cells Also Follow Laws Of Evolution
    Failing Treatment Of Economic Collapse Simplified

    A. "Survival of the fittest: even cancer cells follow the laws of evolution"
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-08/foas-sot080108.php

    Of course. Expected. The cancered cells are proliferating. The energy constraint of their genome is enhanced. Their genes effect ingestion of the energy of their host cells in order to survive. They proliferate, evolve. Yes, theirs is a shorter survival time, postponement time of loss of energy, shorter than the survival time of uncancered organism's cells. But, like and even more than most humans, they instinctively act per the encountered circumstances. This is evolution. This is natural evolution.

    B. Life genetics evolves via culture. In human culture one component is unique, it bypasses genetics.

    Culture is a ubiquitous biological entity
    http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/98.page#266

    There is natural ubiquitous evolution and there is human cultural evolution. Humans evolved language, that became a biological entity.

    Whereas nature's evolutionary rungs are gains or losses of energy constraints for few "fittest" at ongoing circumstantial constellations, including modifications of genetic expressions, some Western cultured groups assess and extend the prospective temporal limits of evolution beyond the immediate scenario. They manipulate the circumstantial constellations, postponing or modifying natural evolution, to gain enhanced energy constraints for a community much larger than of "few fittest". This is what all levels of politics are about. Local, national and international.

    C. Greed cancer cells also follow laws of evolution, with money being humans' cultural energy.

    Not only physiological cancer cells follow the laws of evolution. Human greed cancer cells follow them, too. Evolution is evolution. EOTOE.

    The total amount of cosmic energy is constant even if mass diminishes with the ongoing expansion. Hence the universal melee of mass specimens to ingest each other's energy to survive. Ingesting energy translates into ingesting mass, which is the other face of energy. Humans artificed money to stand for energy. The ideal ethical goal per the 20th-21st centuries technology culture is amassing money, the human energy artifact. Humanity's present technology culture is founded on the brilliant idea that whereas in nature it takes work, converting of mass, to 'amass' energy, humans will - instead - print money, print it and base on it a make-belief culture, founded on make-belief energy. Printing money, posits the brilliant thinking, enables us to bypass nature, to spend more energy than we actually amassed.

    D. So again and again, the economic collapse will not be repaired by mechanisms but by basic cultural modifications

    The greed cancer cure requires a prolonged resolute determined change of culture, of values and ethics and goals, of consumption and living modes and patterns.

    Dov Henis
    (Comments From The 22nd Century)
    03.2010 Updated Life Manifest
    http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/54.page#5065