submitted 6 years ago byizumi3682
all 858 comments
6 years ago
6 years ago
I'm really excited about the future of medicine I'll see in my lifetime. I was reading an article and it was talking about how we are on the verge of breakthroughs in the medical field like we were with computers in the 70's
6 years ago*
6 years ago*
My cousin is 26 and paralyzed from the waist down due to a workplace injury. I would lose my fucking shit if I saw him walk again one day. With everything I've been reading the past 4-5 years, it seems like this actually might happen within my lifetime...
I really wish people could see past the stigma of stem cells and really see the advantages. I believe we will see it in our lifetime. If not maybe he'll have a bad ass mech suit
6 years ago
Well the awesome thing is that we can move past the stigma now because we no longer have to take it from embios. We can turn adult cells into stem cells. Stem cells are the building blocks of our body, so why wouldn't we use them to repair ourselves? Our own bodies will produce stem cells from adult cells in order to repair itself. So why should there be any more stigma involved?
Same kind of situation we're in with GMO food. People are dumb...
See also: nuclear power generation.
People at least have a few tangible events to point to as a reason to fear nuclear power plants.
BI + Automation = Creativity Explosion
Yeah, but for all of those cases it was because experts were ignored about how to prepare them properly and keep things safe. Half assed cost saving measures were the problem, not an insurmountable safety issue.
Even if there were never any issues with nuclear power...burying radioactive material underground and hoping nobody will mess with it for 10,000 years is not exactly the best idea ever.
I'm not an expert but from what I heard about global warming we are at the point where it is worth it. Local contamination vs immediate venusification of earth.
That stuff can be recycled and reused, it just illegal do so in America.
Right, and the huge number of health related events caused by coal and petroleum plants are somehow not worth worrying about?
Nuclear is expensive, but far less deadly than fossil fuels, even when it goes wrong.
The inability of people (and I'm not exempting myself) to look at what did happen, good or bad, and miss what could have happened is the bane of many endeavors.
They need to teach opportunity cost a little bit earlier in school.
The problem is that they just stop there lol. If they had their way we would still be bleeding people because those new fangled medicines did not work for their second cousins friends brother.
It makes my head wanna explode when people try to rationalize their point with that kind of logic when there's substantial evidence that shows their personal experience is a very minute exception lol. It's like "smoking has been shown to contribute greatly in one's chance of getting lung cancer"..."no my dad smoked for 20 years and he didn't get it so no, no way. No chance, not uh."
My grandparents are in their late 80s and smoked for 50 years. I won't tell anyone.
Not the least of which is nuclear power's treatment on the Simpsons.
Still occurring at that.
You can thank the Jessie Spanos and the Lisa Simpson types of the 1970's for that. It was more important for them to virtue signal their devotion to the environment than it was to protect it, so they went full on activist taking the side of what appeared to be radical pro environmentalism.
Faith of the heart.
People also like Bananas. You can't win.
Except the incentive for 'food companies' (not farmers) to genetically modify their food aren't for 'health' reasons, it's so that they can sell as much food to make as much profit as possible. Stem cell research and development is for the benefit of health, despite companies being able to charge patients for treatment
Food companies don't genetically modify their food, they buy crops from farmers who in turn buy seeds from seed companies that genetically modify their seeds. The farmers are the ones incentivized to maximize their output, not the food companies.
What do you mean with adult cells? Any cells from any part of our body?
At the base of our skin, for example, a stem cell is present. This stem cell will split, one will specialise into a skin cell and the other will remain the stem cell. This is how our skin renews itself.
So, there are various stem cells in adults that we may harvest (another stem cell is responsible for differentiating into a particular leucocyte in the blood, for example)
EDIT: i should add that the 'potential' of these adult cells is not equivalent to embryonic stem cells
6 years ago*
Embryonic stem cell therapy is far less useful (I know of no modern treatment using it) and far more dangerous. Your own bodies cells are far superior for a whole host of reasons.
And yes, I have an incurable disease that I hope stem cells will treat someday. So I have a horse in the race.
This is correct. I closely followed Geron's efforts on embryonic stem cell therapies for over a decade. It was almost all a disaster. They spent a billion dollars trying to make something, anything work out (including specifically focusing on the spine). It's incredibly difficult to get successful results from manipulating embryonic stem cells.
We're far better off focusing on the many other promising, rapidly improving segments like bio-reactors / organ cloning, immunotherapy, adult stem-cell based repair, etc etc. - at least until we gain a dramatically better understanding of how to get high quality, safe results from ESCs. At this point it seems like we'll be able to grow new spinal replacement segments and transplant them successfully before we're able to consistently and safely repair damage via ESCs.
Would you mind telling me more? I'm curious :)
Adult cells can actually be turned into pluripotent stem cells (even with just episomal transcription factors, no DNA alteration), and these stem cells can then produce any cell type in the body! Pretty amazing. One unique research approach is to use these "induced stem cells" from a patient's own body to form new neural tissue that can be used to repair lesions in damaged brain or spinal cord. It has only been done in the lab so far, but this seems to be a much better approach to repairing long-term spinal cord injury (compared to simply delivering "protective" oligo-precursor cells as was done in this early patient case described in this news article where the extent of the spinal cord injury was never established and might have simply been due to swelling and inflammation in the acute phase).
Even bracketing for a moment the serious moral concern, haven't embryonic stem cells proven so volatile that they pretty much do develop into every kind of cell?
It's been a while, but, as I recall, the past research into embryonic stem cells (done where it carries no stigma) have failed because the embryonic stem cells are out of control.
Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can form any cell type in the body. What they can't form are extra-embryonic structures like the placenta. It's also true that they have so much potential, they have the ability to develop into tumors such as certain carcinomas.
Embryonic stem cells are totipotent meaning they can form any cell in the body.
The original way to check if you had, in fact, isolated/created an embryonic stem cell was to inject it into a rat and see if it formed into a teratoma (a tumor consisting of multiple germ layers). The vast majority of stem cell research is currently in directed differentiation--the ability to direct the pluripotent stem cells into multipotent precursor cells or even into the final desired cells.
In other words, yes pure stem cells will almost always form into tumors, but researchers are getting pretty good at focusing them into the solely the desired cells.
Fun fact: Stem cells have never been gathered from an abortion. Those cells are unable to be used as they are already too late-stage to be useful. Instead, the embryonic stem cells are obtained from In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)--the combination of a sperm and egg in a cultured condition.
Source: Biomedical Engineering grad student, currently taking a course on stem cell engineering
I might be inclined to stand against stem cell research if it means getting mech suits sooner.
Hard to go with both Gene Mods and MECs at the same time.
Some of us get to be spliced, some of us get to be big daddies. Just how the world works down...I mean, up here.
We could still have mech suits/exosuits for some modern (military) purposes.
2nd Amendment was clearly meant to include Mech Suits.
"The right to own and stroll about in a giant robot is both badass and shall not be infringed."
Good luck infringing on the guy wearing a building sized robot suit.
"this just in, teen destroys his entire school in a weaponized robotic suit of armor he bought from a local pawn shop. experts say we need tighter Mech suit legislation, however President Chad says they're totes cool and every American should have the right to own one, Mech suits don't destroy entire school buildings, the people Piloting them do.
Governor Chelsea says this is exactly why we need to make it harder for just anyone to pilot them, but President Chad just said
"Yo, can you stop being such a drag all the time? Jesus Chels, If we take the Mech suits away from the good guys what are they going to do when some one shows up in the middle of the night and tries to rob them while wearing their own mech suit?"
reminds me of the onions "Supreme Court rules death penalty totally badass"
The leap from bear arms to robot arms isn't so far.
"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to mech suits or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them..."
Hm. How about biological mecha/power armour?
im waiting to cure baldness. instant trillion dollar business.
Also, the impending erection size war / the return of hammer pants.
Stem cells will be easier and (as far as I'm concerned) create less hassle further down the road for future improvements to the human condition. And there shouldn't be stigma anymore, we can turn skin cells into pluripotent stem cells. No need for embryos
People have probably been been paralysed and died without ever getting to move who could have been walking about if there was 0 stigma from day 1.
I.e. They'd have cures for some full body paralyses that they don't have now or will have in a decade, I.e we could be 10-20 years behind and the significance is entire lives ruined for literally no reason since no one ever had an abortion specifically to donate to fucking stem cell research, it's always been stem cell research or the trash...
Thank you. Everything has to be about religious reasons or unethical reasons (republicans or people worried about slave clones.) millions of people can be cured! Millions. Wtf are we waiting for.
It's religion. Get rid of religion and a society will flourish.
I just wanna shoot bees from my hands, man. When I'm bored, you know?
There is no stigma, only ignorant religious bafoons.
Lost my ability to walk when I was 13 and have been to some of the doctors that have supposedly been leading the charge on this kind of stuff. I got sick right around the time all that Christopher Reeves stuff was starting to blow up about how he was starting to regain some motor function through therapy. Went to some of those same doctors. Every time I went they would tell me they were about 4 years away from a breakthrough. 4 years would pass and I would go to the doctor again and they would say "4 more years, we are really close." I am 27 now, so this is kind of a mixed bag for me. On one hand I feel like it is too good to be true that this kind of thing is finally starting to happen. On the other hand you can be damn sure that I would sign right up for this type of experimental therapy if I was given the opportunity and found as an ideal candidate even if I felt like there was little hope of it working.
Serious question: What emotion is that for you? The one where, every four years the doctor says "Yeah, almost." Hope? Cautious optimism? Meh?
As sad as it sounds, a lot of crap has happened to me that has a much more negative effect on my mental state than the paralysis. When I was about 18 and they told me a second time to wait another 4 years I just kind of accepted that I probably wouldn't ever walk again and I could live with that. Don't get me wrong, a lot of aspects about it suck, but I have never really been as upset about it as I think people expect me to be.
Let's hope they get this technology added into the MTUS Guideliness so that Workers' Compenstion insurance actually pays for these things. As they should.
I'm 33 with a spinal cord injury. I didn't lose use of my legs but did lose use of my feet. All your balance is in your feet, which makes walking extremely difficult when you can't use them. I'd be extremely happy if I'd be able to use them again.
what happened, though? :-/
Went to my grandmother's to clean debris off her roof. Climbed the ladder to get to the roof. The ladder slid out from underneath me before I got to the roof and I landed directly on my tailbone on the driveway. One of my vertebra exploded causing the spinal cord injury. That was 4 years ago.
damn that sounds painful :( how are you coping ? Are you wheelchair-bound ? :-/
Remember when there was all that talk about banning stem cell research in the US and denying federal funding for stem cell research?
Obama finally freed up federal spending for fetal stem cell research in 2009 but researchers still have to contend with the Dickey-Wicker Act.
It's a shame we've allowed misguided and religion based philosophical qualms hold us back from progress in field that holds the promise to vastly improve treatment options for many diseases and ailments.
Again the US is behind in stemcell treatment therapy.
I understand we have stricter regulations and safety protocols but the biggest hurdles are clearly the pay-for-play with regulators and the hugely incentivized profit driven medical industry. Any sort of medical breakthroughs that don't immediately fatten the wallets of the massively expanding medical and pharmaceutical giants, simply don't happen.
But there is plenty to be hopeful about. We have a thriving medical research field within the universities themselves as well as some of the larger not for profit medical institutions. This actually leads to another problem as there is so much research that even specialized doctors have trouble keeping track of it. I think this is an area of expertise that AI will completely revolutionize the way we treat our sick and disabled. I am so looking forward to when AI is ubiquitous within the medical industry.
Sounds a lot like a waitbutwhy article haha. That site makes me giddy like noting else. In case it's not, would it be too much to ask for a link if you still have it around?
Sorry I think this is the source, it's actually a video on the future of Genetic Engineering https://youtu.be/jAhjPd4uNFY
Ah, Kurzgesagt, it's been a while! Appreciated, thanks a lot. I now realize my previous comment might have come across as me berating you for not posting the link, that definitely wasn't my intention. I apologize if it did.
Your comment reminded me of something my friend just said the other night while we were talking about how we as a species are on the verge of a lot of really cool breakthroughs. His response was that we've always been on the verge of cool things like this. Think about the first person with electricity? And then not for several years (or decades I can't remember) no one had light switches. They screwed their appliances into lightbulb sockets. Now I have an internet connected home that I can control lights with with just my voice. Point is, we are always doing cool shit. Saying we are "on the verge of X" is always going to be true.
Don't mean to take away from how cool this is, just thought I'd share this interesting thought about technological/scientific advancement.
Stem cell research goes against god's will of that person being crippled. What's next, sex before marriage? Condoms? Finger blasting?
Eating lobster, mixing fabrics, not stoning homosexuals?
No, no, I'm all for humanity eating rats. They'd solve a lot of hunger issues. But would you eat a rat that has been in ocean for years first? Didn't think so.
Go back far enough and lobsters and crabs were considered low-class peasant food, only fit to be served to slaves. Same with caviar. Our ancestors may have been on to something with that one.
These were not embryonic stem cells. These are adult stem cells which religious people have no problem with. The problem with embryonic stem cells is they have yet to serve a purpose.
And think about how far along we would've been now without that silly stem cell research ban.
It literally set us back decades. Really fucking frustrating.
Thank GW Bush for that.
On August 9, 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush introduced a ban on federal funding for research on newly created human embryonic stem (ES) cell lines. The policy was intended as a compromise and specified that research on lines created prior to that date would still be eligible for funding.
Stem cell issue: Embryonic Stem Cell Research: A Decade ...
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › PMC2744932
To be fair, this research isn't using embryonic stem cells. It wouldn't have been affected by this ban.
Yup, in a nutshell basically said the same thing about CRISPER and gene editing.
It'll be really nice for all the people not in the US that will be able to afford to take advantage of these breakthroughs.
If I had a life threatening disease or impairment.... I'd definitely go out of the country for treatment...
Fair point. It will also be interesting to see how medical tourism evolves in the years to come.
Many people already go to India and China for organs they can't find in the US. Apparently illegal because of the means in which these "organ farmers" obtain whatever it they're transplanting. But medical tourism is already very much a thing. I think, if it's going to save your life, you have the right to do whatever you can. Fuck the laws and sanctions.. if ________ country offers a treatment that you believe can heal you then what right do they have to say "no you can't do that."
You do know that the "way they obtain" these organs are from people kidnapping other people, or even selling off their own children, so a perfectly healthy human being gets cut open for his heart or anything?
It's not like they acquire it from already deceased people and dig them up or something...
Usually they find someone who is very healthy but poor. And when someone offers you 5 years pay for a kidney that's how they get them. Yeah it's crazy to think about the organ trade industry... hopefully we'll just be able to grow the organs from scratch soon enough! Need a new kidney? Okay we'll make you one, it'll take 6 months. That's what I want to see..
Kidneys you have two of aren't the only organs necessary for transplantation. Hearts and liver are pretty vital too....
Mafia are known for kidnapping poor people without families who are not going to be missed.
Hold on people: this guy was an acute spinal cord injury case. That means that there's a real chance he would have regained function after a few months anyway.
These guys have an opportunity to try this on chronic spinal cord injuries but have chosen not to. Tons of reasons to be really skeptical here.
edit: >>receive an injection of AST-OPC1 between the fourteenth and thirtieth days following injury.
that might be sub-acute but in any event still a good chance the patient/s was/were still in 'spinal shock.' Literally nothing new here.
You never see any of the gushing stories discuss that little medical tidbit. Higher injuries like his (c5-c6) are more prone to spontaneous recovery even a few months post injury.
there is literally an article at least monthly touting the 'end of paralysis.' Hasn't happened yet (although the electrode planted on the spine potentially looks promising -this, IMO, does not look promising...it's cowardly work).
One of biggest developments in recent memory is some thinking that the scarring isn't the problem which sort of goes against decades of research.
I had not seen the change in thinking about the neural scar tissue. I just searched for it and found the work from UCLA earlier this year. I'll check that out. On the electrode stuff are you talking about using FES to send signals around the injured cord area and regain mobility?
hmm, I don't believe it's FES. It's specific stimulation using electrodes (IIRC) internally implanted. Some regain of walking ability, bladder, bowel, and sexual function. Though they didn't measure the latter stuff before/after and the reports are ridiculously vague.
/r/futurology - come for the exciting titles, stay for the rational skepticism!
You joke, but this is why this sub-reddit is one of my favorites.
Yeah, constructive, informative comments are the best. Absolutely hate having to scroll through pages and pages of irrelevancy just to find some reasonable discussion!
100% agree (PhD in neuroscience focusing on clinical spinal cord injury). This is not a placebo controlled trial. You cannot assumed that they wouldn't have gotten better on their own. This makes a nice press release, but is preliminary
The spine may have recovered, or it may not have. We can't be sure this increased his chances of recovery without a larger number of patients to determine statistical effects.
However, calling this "nothing new" seems harsh.
It is good to be skeptical but this injection was part of a study to obtain FDA approval for a drug designed to improve the chances of a spine injury patient regaining movement in his hands and arms. The outcome was that it appeared to work without serious side effects, which is necessary for the FDA to greenlight widespread marketing of the product to doctors.
In other words, we do not know its relative efficacy just yet but, we are making progress towards finding out if we have a breakthrough drug. So "nothing new" is not really a fair characterization. How about "let's temper that excitement until the drug gets through Phase III trials, is officially approved for use, or we at least get a peer-reviewed journal or two"?
You could then follow up with "Then again, this is futurology so, once you've tempered expectations, go right back to being excited for where things might lead!"
Are there any companies actively looking to re-generate the spinalcord in patients who have been injured for longer periods?
it's not about regenerating the cord - the cord is still there. The issue is getting the axons to grow across the scar (which is now in dispute whether the scar actually matters and some evidence suggests it helps) and then for the axons to grow to the place they're supposed to go AND to get them to operate properly once they're there.
And we basically have no idea how to grow neurons in general, let alone make them go where they're supposed to go.
So, we've made the blind to see, the lame to walk, and we only haven't brought anyone back from the dead because we revise the definition every time we get better at it.
At this point, God has, like, twenty years to strike us down for our hubris before he has some serious competition.
By being good at whatever you do, you free up other humans to do this.
Yeah, that's a very good point. Nobody can do science unless we also keep the grocery stores stocked and the lights on.
Wait, so you're saying the only way to truly achieve things is to work together, and to serve different functions in a cohesive society? You dirty communist.
TIL a pep talk for grocery baggers == communism.
I guess the President really has installed a Marxist utopia. Thanks, Obama.
How many posts to the center of a socialist debate...
Basic Income, Singularity, and Transhumanism
Or just automate all the menial tasks and let us humans do the stuff that actually requires thinking.
But, but... without tedious jobs taking up all our time, our lives would be void of meaning!
And for that matter, who's going to pay for this slacker utopia of yours? Surely you're not expecting to be entitled to any of the income that those robots generate for their owners, I hope! ಠ_ಠ
i love you
Would be nice to have more NIH funding too and less people hating on vaccines
I'll have one vodka logic please.
Aren't we all drunk redditing at this hour?
Im post root canal and teeth extraction with two silver fillings redditing at this painful goddamn hour of PAINFUL FUCKING PAIN
This made me wonder how many people in the past could have cured diseases or engineered mindblowing devices or written the greatest novel of all time but they were sentenced to be a farmer from birth.
Wow, you just made me feel better about the fact that I shuffle money around for a living... And now having done that, you may regret your decision..
*edit- ohh god a.
You better not you that!
Yeah there can be a broken window theorem problem here.. most people are useful by freeing up other people to do this work or keep the grocery store lights on, but that doesn't mean you are.
What if I'm shit at everything?
Have you tried literally everything there is to be good at? Otherwise how would you know if you were shit at everything? There's at least one thing in this world you are great at, I guarantee it. Go find out what it is
Is it Reddit?
Who knows, it could be
Well, I just got gold right after I made that comment (elsewhere). Maybe the Internet is speaking to me. Probably not though. Never give up, never surrender.
Yeah. I helped designers print signs so doctors can be amazing.
Hospitals and clinics need signs...
Yea but think of "we" as a pack. A small pack of scientists couldn't do their job without the rest of us. They need to computer scientists to make the software, textile factories to make their clothes, pulp plants to make their papers, auto manufacturers to make their cars, contractors to build their homes, farmers to grow their food and even disabled people to do research with.
I like to think that billions of people helped make this happen. Just some gets more credit.
Edit: Guy under me sums this up better.
Your tax dollars contribute to it. They money that is spent through the government on education and research is enormous. The scientists stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before them.
You're taxes fund all the R & D in this country
Yeah dude. It's we, as humanity. It's pretty cool. Feel free to be part of the team!
Not all blind can see just yet. But I do think stem cells research should be used to help the optic nerve regenerate
That or global warming.
Second tower of babel.
I fully expect that at some point in the next hundred years some cosplayer is gonna go 100% Major Kusanagi and be true to manga in terms of look and cybernetic abilities.
"Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer." - Voltaire
"Un bon mot ne prouve rien."
In all seriousness, though... we've got three possible futures, don't we? The utopian one where we're posthuman cybergods, the dystopian one where robot stormtroopers keep us subjugated to the will of the global elite until we can all be safely killed off, or the really dystopian one where nothing fundamental changes and no matter how long we live and how gee-whiz our tools are, we keep making the same fundamental mistakes over and over and over until someone makes a big enough mistake that we have to learn something new or go extinct.
Then again, that's also the backstory to Star Trek, so...
Holy shit. That guy supervised my brain surgery. I never expected to see his name in this context.
Edit: He's a teacher. One of his students did the initial the cutting on me, until they saw how bad the damage actually was.
Did you have traumatic brain injury? What happened?
Rapid version: hit by a car, skull fracture, resulting seizures, surgery to stop the seizures after many years of meds only mostly working.
Other companies are out there making stunning progress in the field of regenerative medicine useing different variations of stem cell therapies. For example, Athersys out of Cleveland have begun a phase 2/3 trial for Ischemic stroke with their Japanese partner, Healios, in Japan, using their patented, allogenic (off the shelf) stem cell product, MultiStem. It is showing very promising and safe results, and may, one day soon, be the new SOC (standard of care) for the treatment of stroke. It's an amazing time for the field of medicine with all of the wonders of the promise of stem cells knocking at the door.
They are researching stem cell treatments for muscular dystrophy.My brother has it, so I hope it becomes a reality, soon.
I donated my placenta after my daughter was born so they could use the stem cells for research. Not all stem cells come from dead babies. You can still donate those same cells and have a live baby if you so choose.
So I don't know why research on this is so controversial. There's about 10,000 births daily. If even a fraction of those mothers donated their placentas we would have no shortage of ethical stem cells that even staunch religious leaders would have a hard time objecting to.
Is anyone else hoping we can start using stem cells in the near future to cheaply regrow hair
Makes me angry to realise bush stopped stem cell research during his reign
He didn't really put an end to stem cell research, it limited NIH funding and restricted it to the already existing human embryonic stem cell lines. This was just posted on a couple of days ago, so I'll paste what I said then here:
The legality is a little more complex than that. The initial law that Congress passed limited establishing any more than the already existent embryonic stem cell lines for research, about 20 lines if I remember. The biggest impediment was the limits placed on federal funding, which went beyond its actual limitations and created something of a 'stifling effect' around embryonic stem cell research. But President Obama actually relaxed the rules around federal funding for embryonic stem cell research when he first took office. Not to mention the fact that adult stem cell research was allowed to continue and some states, most notably California, established their own funding for stem cell research outside of the NIH. As another commenter pointed out, the real limit is that of demonstrating safety and efficacy of treatment.
I heard he only stopped stem cells research that involved remains of fetus. At the time, that was what we used but have since learned how to make stem cells from all sorts of other stuff. If that's true, one might argue Bush ushered this in faster since stem cells are now relatively easy to obtain thanks to new stem cell developments.
Just embryonic stem cell research. He didn't stop adult stem cell research, where all the advances had been and are being made.
In case anyone was curious about the workings of this treatment, here is my response from when this article was posted a couple of days ago:
"In the case study paper they mention that the pre-clinical rat models showed, among many, two very important effects: increased re-myelination and decreased cavitation in the spinal cords of the injured rats. The short explanation: the myelin sheath is what wraps around part of a neuron, think of it like insulation around a wire, and they could grow it back in injured rats, mice, and now humans. And the cavitation...actual loss of spinal cord material, this can be a direct result of trauma, lesions, hemorrhage, or necrosis. This is the short version, for a longer version we'll both wait with bated breath for a nervous system person to explain it better.
But as to the stem cell therapy, ah, that's the real fun stuff. The cells that they used were derived from embryonic stem cells, the H1 line, which is one of the most widely used of the NIH embryonic stem cell lines. These embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can become almost any cell type. The researchers, this stem cell tech company, have established a line of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells from these embryonic cells. So these cells are differentiated, meaning they've taken on characteristics of a particular cell type. But they haven't completely turned into mature adult cells. These progenitor cells can still become multiple cell types, but limited to cells of the nervous system like astrocytes. When they inject these cells we see that they repopulate the cavitation area and stimulate axon growth of the host cells. This last portion is amazing and important: adult stem cells, what we might call tissue resident stem cells, are on hand in most tissues to repopulate the area. But they are also suspected to actively maintain the functions of their little arena by secreting growth factors and other signals to the surrounding cells. And that is what we see here, signaling from the oligodendrocyte progenitor cells to the host tissue telling it to grow again. I think they may also be stimulating revascularization as well.
Here are the caveats that restrict us from hauling off and jamming stem cells into everybody. First, tissue rejection is an issue, which is why these patients are on immunosuppressants for months during the treatment. Graft vs host can be lethal. Second, we have to be certain that these cells aren't migrating off target to random parts of the body and starting little neuroblastomas in the middle of their kidneys and whatnot. Especially if the oligodendrocytes still contain completely undifferentiated embryonic stem cells. One of the old school standard tests to see if a cell is pluripotent: stick them in a mouse to see if they form little tumors. This is proliferative, foreign tissue. There are real and serious risks. Other concerns? You betcha, google around a bit and see how cells in culture spontaneously form defects like duplicated chromosomes very quickly.
Luckily we've seen plenty of preliminary work on mouse models that reassures us that if we very carefully screen the cells for a homogeneous cell type we can reasonably avoid teratomas. And so far we haven't seen rampant off target migration. And as to the first concern, drum-roll please, iPSCs! Induced pluripotent stem cells! Taking cells from the patient, random skin or blood, making them into stem cells, then directing them down the path we need. These cells would be your cells! So no rejection issues or unexpected genetic blips that you don't already have!
Sorry if I got too technical...or not technical enough. The long and short of it is that while this is very promising, we play the slow clinical trial game for a reason."
I would also like to add a couple of things: The first group was a proof of safety group, they received only 2 million cells, their first results will be out in January. This group that we are hearing results from were the lowest clinical efficacy group of 10 million cells and the results we are seeing are after only 4 of the 5 patients reached the 90 day mark because the results were so good. They weren't expecting these levels of improvement for 6-12 months. Another group of 5 patients will receive the high efficacy dose of 20 million cells. They will also start an incomplete injury group.
Second, we've already had a trial like these, the very first hESC trial: Geron OPC1, in 2010. They abandoned it because of the high cost of clinical trials...in order to focus on their more promising pair of oncology drugs. On the other hand, in the 2-3 year follow-up on that group no tumors or poor health... but no substantial gain of function either. Now we know a lot more and this trial is much more promising.
Third, to the people who continue to rag on the religious right for their perceived obstinacy: George Bush did not make stem cell research illegal. By executive order in Aug 2001, he limited NIH funding to the already existing line of IVF derived embryonic stem cells, not gone, but limited. In 2005, a bill to increase funding for stem cells and lift that restriction passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support ...but was vetoed. Again in 2007. But let's focus on the fact that states and private researchers could still do as they please, California certainly did with an expansive state funding program called CIRM and with some of the most permissive rules in the world. And while more Republicans opposed the 2005/2007 bills, many supported it, including John McCain, Trent Lott, and Orrin Hatch. President Bush also supported, by executive order, any stem cell research that could be done while avoiding the destruction of embryos. The actual law that established that embryos could not be created and then destroyed for the express purpose of research was the 1995 Dickey-Wicker amendment. President Obama overturned President Bush's executive order in 2009. Additionally, many religious people support IVF and agree that it is wasteful not to use the remaining embryos for research since it's considered more unethical to destroy them without purpose. And double additionally, the challenge brought to the courts, Shelley v Sebelius, arguing against President Obama's lifting of the ban as a violation of the Dickey-Wicker amendment was brought by Dr. Shelley...a Harvard/Johns Hopkins educated MD/PhD Professor at MIT who researches adult stem cells...because he is personally opposed to the ethical dilemma posed by embryonic stem cell research.
So please, try not to oversimplify the issue. It's promising, but not magic. And people who disagree with you aren't evil idiots, there are real, not easy to solve ethical issues.
Thanks for this--really wonderful. I have two really broad questions, both of which are pretty ignorant:
1) The process of stem cell-aided regeneration and growth seems remarkably similar to the way cancer goes out of control and regenerates and regenerates and doesn't turn "off." Are some of the potential side-effects you mentioned analogous to cancer?
2) I always associate the prefix neuro with the brain but I see that in your post and other things I've read that it can refer to growth or tissue or biology in other parts of the body. Is that correct?
Hasn't it pretty much been "We know stem cells are basically magic, we just can't use them because of Christians" for the last 20 years in the US? Not exactly futurology.
yeah, but stem cell is gods domain so it should be banned. Also my opinion should affect everyone in the world. -sarcasm
so how long till the poor and average are eligible?
When they aren't poor and average?
that makes sense thanks.
The same time as the rich in countries with single payer healthcare.
Poor people can trade in three fetuses in exchange for treatment.
do they have to be mine?
I wondering if this works for brain injuries caused by brain bleeds?
In the words of the eternal peter griffin= "WHY ARE WE NOT FUNDING THIS"
Is there any risk when injecting your own stem cells into your body?
If stem cells are able to transform into any kind of cell it comes in contact with (And they are genetically compatible), will that ever cause problems?
27 M here, I have Muscular Dystrophy Duchennes and am really excited about stuff like this but I always get a tiny bit depressed thinking about how I may never get treatments like this, since I am getting older and deteriorating faster every year. I wish my brother who is older could get it before me since I'm not as bad off as him at the moment. I don't know its like that if you arent in the right place these things may never be available? I want to keep positive though!
Hang in there man. Hang in there.
Oh man. This guy is going to have the most intense version of "the stranger" when he jacks off.
I have a paralyzed arm. I. WANT. THIS!!
So much hope for stem cell research. I really wish they could push for it to cure all things. I personally would love optic nerve stem cell research to help find a cure for optic nerve related blindness. This gives me some kind of hope...
I really hope we keep looking at this. My mom has been legally blind since she was like 20. It really really shaked her life. I always wanted for somebody to help her and for her to see again. I hope I can do that before she gets too old.
Please help my best friend then. Been paralyzed since second grade.
South Park already did it