Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hope vs Hype for Embryonic Stem Cells [Serge]

I have heard it said that today's scientific community does not have great faith. According to this article, this is clearly not true. They have great faith in their ability to find solutions to problems in human beings that they have been unable to find in other animals. They also have faith in their ability to predict not only cures, but actually how long the procedures that will create the cures will take. They quickly mention some progress using adult stem cells, and simply assume that this progress will accelerate once they can use hESCs. Their faith is amazing, only surpassed by the media's gullibility in reporting such empty promises.

The introduction of human embryonic stem cells (hEBCs) in another human being has two significant clinical problems. First, there is the problem of immune rejection. However, this may not be an issue in the eye, in which immune rejection does not frequently occur. However, there is also the problem of teratoma formation. Although teratomas are benign (meaning only that they do not spread to other tissues), you can easily see why growing tumors may be a bit of a problem in the small, closed environment of the eye. So far this problem has alluded investigators. You can see how this issue will be handled way down in the article:

Pete Coffey of UCL, the director of the project, said he was confident the procedure would work in humans but the team needed to ensure the safety and quality of batches of cells, which would take time.
Which is a bit like saying that we are confident that we will soon be visiting other distant galaxies, but the team needs time to work out that "light speed" issue. Its amazing how the media falls for this.

1 comment:

  1. I love the title of the article. "Scientists PLAN stem cell cure for blindness." (Emphasis mine)

    Well as long as they have a plan embryonic stem cells must be the most effective way to treat everything ever. I did not know they were already in the planning stage. Wow!



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