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Thread: Embryonic stem cell research stalled despite Obama's try at lifting restrictions

  1. #1

    Embryonic stem cell research stalled despite Obama's try at lifting restrictions

    The complaints are finally becoming public. Wise.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...r=emailarticle

    Embryonic stem cell research stalled despite Obama's try at lifting restrictions


    A frozen vial with human embryonic stem cells, which are at the center of the controversy. (Paul Sancya/associated Press)

    By Rob Stein
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, March 15, 2010
    One year after President Obama announced he was lifting his predecessor's controversial restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, some scientists are complaining that so far the new policy is -- ironically -- more of a burden than a boon to their work.

    "The situation at the moment is worse than it was under the Bush administration," said Charles Murry, a professor of pathology and bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. "Because of this, we are going to waste a lot of time."

    At issue is the fate of the 21 "lines of cells" that President George W. Bush said could receive federal funding.

    Bush limited federal funding to the lines that were already in existence in 2001. He wanted to prevent taxpayer dollars from encouraging the destruction of more embryos to create more lines. Critics of the research praised Bush's move, arguing that destroying embryos to obtain the cell lines is immoral. But the restrictions were condemned by many scientists, who argued they were hindering research that could lead to cures for Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, paralysis and other ailments.

    Obama's attempt to loosen restrictions on federal funding was complicated by a thicket of ethical issues. Last summer, the National Institutes of Health issued detailed guidelines aimed at addressing those concerns. The guidelines included stringent requirements that any lines being studied with federal funding meet strict new ethical criteria, including making sure couples who donated the embryos for the lines' creation were fully informed of other options.

    The problem is that it remains unclear how many of the original 21 lines, which researchers have spent millions of dollars and nearly a decade studying, were derived at a time when ethical requirements were less specific, leaving in doubt how many would pass muster under the tough new guidelines.

    "Some of these lines were derived more than a decade ago, and some of the researchers who derived them aren't around anymore," said Timothy J. Kamp, director of the stem cell and regenerative medicine center at the University of Wisconsin. "Some of those records may not be available. Some providers of those original lines might not be motivated to provide those records in a timely fashion."

    So far, the NIH has approved 43 lines. But that includes only one of the original 21 "Bush" lines. An additional 115 lines are awaiting review. But that includes only two more of the original lines.

    "We're losing access to those lines in this approval process for some period of time -- maybe indefinitely," Kamp said. "They are the main workhorses for many of our projects."

    Kamp wants the NIH to revise its guidelines to grandfather in the existing lines or give researchers a two-year grace period to continue to work with them until they get formal approval.

    Kamp wants the NIH to revise its guidelines to grandfather in the existing lines or give researchers a two-year grace period to continue to work with them until they get formal approval.

    NIH officials said the new guidelines were designed to try to make the transition as smooth as possible while applying responsible ethical guideposts.

    "We are completely sympathetic and understand where the research community is coming from," said Lana Skirboll, NIH's director of science policy. "Our responsibility is to make sure we're conducting research with lines that were responsibly derived. . . . We have a process and are moving as fast as we can."

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  2. #2
    Senior Member 0xSquidy's Avatar
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    Richard Dawkins please help us.

  3. #3
    Senior Member DA's Avatar
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    if they make esc from skin or use umbilical cord, then what is the problem?
    there is no problem. those profiting off the sick is blocking progress.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by DA View Post
    if they make esc from skin or use umbilical cord, then what is the problem?
    there is no problem. those profiting off the sick is blocking progress.
    DA,

    What is the problem? Given all the complaining that you have been doing, you ask what the problem is? Come on. The problem is that we have lost time. Back in 2001, I predicted that we should be able to create pluripotent stem cells by understanding what embryonic stem cells do. After all, a stem cell is just a cell that is expressing certain genes. If we know what those genes are, we should be able to make a stem cell. Indeed, this obvious prediction turned out to be true when Yamanaka and others discovered that inserting four genes into skin cells will produce pluripotent stem cells that behave like embryonic stem cells.

    But IPS cells are still in their nascency. The efficiency of creating IPS cells is still very low. The best groups, using retroviruses and other viruses have been able turn perhaps 1 out of a million cells into IPS cells. We don't know why. Some scientists have suggested that the one in a million cell may be special, i.e. expressing certain genes or having certain epigenetic factors that make them uniquely responsive to reprogramming by the four genes. Recently, at Stanford, a group has found three genes that appear to be necessary and sufficient to reprogram skin cells to neurons, bypassing the pluripotency stage. Thus, scientists have now achieved both dedifferentiation and transdifferentation. But we don't know why it is so inefficient. We are still a ways from getting this down to being a reliable procedure that can be applied clinically.

    Conservatives have gotten some things right over the years but their stance on embryonic stem cells is not one of them. If studies of embryonic stem cells had not been paralyzed for nearly a decade, we would be much further along in understanding what they do and how they do it. It is almost unbelievable to me that, because of the stupid wrangling on this subject and the gross ignorance of people who misunderstood stem cells and wrongly tied embryonic stem cells to abortions, we still have little idea of how to produce pluripotent stem cells.

    The study of embryonic stem cells is not just for treating spinal cord injury and other conditions. Understanding stem cells is critical for understanding development. At the present, we know little and can do nothing about development disorders. The ability to grow human embryonic stem cells from blastocysts that are being discarded would not only have given scientists access to studies of human development but also studies of embryonic stem cells containing human genetic diseases. For example, if we had embryonic stem cell lines from people with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, supranuclear palsy, multisystem atrophy, etc., we would be able to move much more rapidly in understanding why these genes cause disease and how to fix this.

    So, the concept that NIH itself would restrict science by imposing new and retrograde informed consent rules on use of stem cells that have already been derived, forbidding funding of somatic cell nuclear cloning and parthenogenesis, and discouraging transplantation of human embryonic or induced pluripotent stem cells in to animals is difficult to comprehend. These have not been imposed on NIH by Congress or the White House. These are self-imposed restrictions by NIH itself. I have gone to a number of meetings and heard several NIH officials speak about this issue. Their explanations have not been satisfactory. They range all the way from "these restrictions are above my pay grade" (meaning that they can't and don't want to defend it) to NIH wanting to seek the middle ground in politics and not wanting to antagonize legislators on the far right.

    Scientific research and particularly stem cell research is already one of the most highly regulated of all activities in the United States. Do you know that in order to apply for a grant to study human embryonic stem cells in animals at Rutgers, for example, I would have to get the research proposal vetted and approved by the institutional animal use and care committee (IACUC), the institutional review board (IRB), and a special committee to assess just embryonic stem cells. Then, if the proposal is submitted to NIH, the proposal would be reviewed by three separate committees. If the proposal is submitted to the state of New Jersey (if there were funding and there is currently no funding for stem cell research), it would be reviewed by a state-wide ethics board formed for evaluating stem cell research and the peer review of the agency.

    So please stop this nonsense about "those profiting from the sick".

    Wise.

  5. #5
    Senior Member DA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young View Post
    DA,

    What is the problem? Given all the complaining that you have been doing, you ask what the problem is? Come on. The problem is that we have lost time. Back in 2001, I predicted that we should be able to create pluripotent stem cells by understanding what embryonic stem cells do. After all, a stem cell is just a cell that is expressing certain genes. If we know what those genes are, we should be able to make a stem cell. Indeed, this obvious prediction turned out to be true when Yamanaka and others discovered that inserting four genes into skin cells will produce pluripotent stem cells that behave like embryonic stem cells.

    But IPS cells are still in their nascency. The efficiency of creating IPS cells is still very low. The best groups, using retroviruses and other viruses have been able turn perhaps 1 out of a million cells into IPS cells. We don't know why. Some scientists have suggested that the one in a million cell may be special, i.e. expressing certain genes or having certain epigenetic factors that make them uniquely responsive to reprogramming by the four genes. Recently, at Stanford, a group has found three genes that appear to be necessary and sufficient to reprogram skin cells to neurons, bypassing the pluripotency stage. Thus, scientists have now achieved both dedifferentiation and transdifferentation. But we don't know why it is so inefficient. We are still a ways from getting this down to being a reliable procedure that can be applied clinically.

    Conservatives have gotten some things right over the years but their stance on embryonic stem cells is not one of them. If studies of embryonic stem cells had not been paralyzed for nearly a decade, we would be much further along in understanding what they do and how they do it. It is almost unbelievable to me that, because of the stupid wrangling on this subject and the gross ignorance of people who misunderstood stem cells and wrongly tied embryonic stem cells to abortions, we still have little idea of how to produce pluripotent stem cells.

    The study of embryonic stem cells is not just for treating spinal cord injury and other conditions. Understanding stem cells is critical for understanding development. At the present, we know little and can do nothing about development disorders. The ability to grow human embryonic stem cells from blastocysts that are being discarded would not only have given scientists access to studies of human development but also studies of embryonic stem cells containing human genetic diseases. For example, if we had embryonic stem cell lines from people with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, supranuclear palsy, multisystem atrophy, etc., we would be able to move much more rapidly in understanding why these genes cause disease and how to fix this.

    So, the concept that NIH itself would restrict science by imposing new and retrograde informed consent rules on use of stem cells that have already been derived, forbidding funding of somatic cell nuclear cloning and parthenogenesis, and discouraging transplantation of human embryonic or induced pluripotent stem cells in to animals is difficult to comprehend. These have not been imposed on NIH by Congress or the White House. These are self-imposed restrictions by NIH itself. I have gone to a number of meetings and heard several NIH officials speak about this issue. Their explanations have not been satisfactory. They range all the way from "these restrictions are above my pay grade" (meaning that they can't and don't want to defend it) to NIH wanting to seek the middle ground in politics and not wanting to antagonize legislators on the far right.

    Scientific research and particularly stem cell research is already one of the most highly regulated of all activities in the United States. Do you know that in order to apply for a grant to study human embryonic stem cells in animals at Rutgers, for example, I would have to get the research proposal vetted and approved by the institutional animal use and care committee (IACUC), the institutional review board (IRB), and a special committee to assess just embryonic stem cells. Then, if the proposal is submitted to NIH, the proposal would be reviewed by three separate committees. If the proposal is submitted to the state of New Jersey (if there were funding and there is currently no funding for stem cell research), it would be reviewed by a state-wide ethics board formed for evaluating stem cell research and the peer review of the agency.

    So please stop this nonsense about "those profiting from the sick".

    Wise.
    dr young wake up from lala land. the reason it is so hard for you to do all
    you mentioned is because of the greedy profiting off the sick. if one was
    profiting off the sick and wanted to stop all cures, one would put in many
    regulations and road blocks as you mentioned to slow or stop progress.
    i hope you dont think those regulations are for the safety for people like me.
    hahaha...that would they care...

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by DA View Post
    dr young wake up from lala land. the reason it is so hard for you to do all
    you mentioned is because of the greedy profiting off the sick. if one was
    profiting off the sick and wanted to stop all cures, one would put in many
    regulations and road blocks as you mentioned to slow or stop progress.
    i hope you dont think those regulations are for the safety for people like me.
    hahaha...that would they care...
    I wish it were just the "greedy profiting off the sick" because we know how to deal with greedy people. We just have to show them the money. It is much harder to deal with people who are ignorant and deliberately refuse to see how much harm they are doing for nothing. All the wrangling and the stem cell debates have not saved a single embryo. Hundreds of thousands of fertilized eggs continue to be dumped (killed) every month in fertility clinics.

    Do you really think that George W. Bush restricted embryonic stem cell research because he is "greedy profiting off the sick"? He is the first and the most prominent government official to hold back stem cell research. By the way, the harm that he did wasn't just his decision to restrict NIH funding to embryonic stem cells derived before August 2001.

    George W. Bush essentially flat-lined NIH funding from 2003 to 2009. Even if he had allowed the research, there was no additional funding allocated for stem cell research. For all his (and all the conservatives who supposedly favor adult stem cells) talk about adult stem cells, he and they did absolutely nothing to increase funding for adult stem cell research for 8 years. California spent more money on stem cell research than NIH. This is not just embryonic stem cell research but all human stem cell research.

    It took the Obama administration a whole year to get the stem cell registry established. Because NIH would not fund any research on embryonic stem cells that is not in the registry, this means that essentially no new grants for embryonic stem cell research was approved in 2009. Perhaps NIH will catch up in 2010 because I understand that they have spent some stimulus funds on stem cell research. But, overall, the performance of the Obama administration on this front has been disappointing.

    It is beyond my understanding why they did not automatically include all the cell lines that have already been derived up to 2009. These include the 21 cells that President Bush allowed NIH to fund studies on. Of those cells, only 1 cell line (I believe H9 from Wisconsin) was approved to be in the registry. Please, what is the ethical problem with allowing cells that have already been derived be studied? It is not saving any babies. The decision to exclude them is bad science, bad politics, and bad ethics.

    Please don't tell me that NIH made that stupid decision because they are greedy.

    Wise.

  7. #7
    Senior Member DA's Avatar
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    you said it for me. bush could have tripled nih budget, yet we would still be in the same hopeless situation we are in now. and yes i do think bush motives to restrict esc was to please people who profit off the sick staying sick. dr young, you might not want to believe it, but there is an evil worse than hitler and stalin combined infecting our medical system.

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    It doesn't matter whether there is an evil conspiracy or benign incompetence or simply incredibly difficult problems to be solved. Some day the millions of US Citizens who are affected by horrible diseases and conditions that might be treated via stem cell therapy are going to wake up and exercise their political power to get rid of the government imposed (Executive Branch) stem cell research roadblocks, and then and apprarently only then will those roadblocks come down.

    Frankly I would rather send my money to a well run and principled non-profit dedicated to building and directing polictical power to get rid of these roadblocks than to scientists dedicated to finding ways around the roadblocks. Political problems can be fixed pretty quickly if you have the votes.

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