Sunday, January 21, 2007

Got Embryos?

Michael Fumento at Winds of Change is discussing how amniotic stem cells are a huge break through and will eliminate the need for embyonic stem cells. He thinks the New York Times is covering up this breakthrough by inadequate reporting.

Not so fast I say. How about current research in the matter?

For instance how about this work on regenerating heart tissue?

An Israeli scientific team from the Technion have succeeded in creating in the laboratory beating heart tissue from human embryonic stem cells.

Moreover, the researchers - Dr. Shulamit Levenberg and Prof. Lior Gepstein - have succeeded in creating blood vessels in the tissue, which will enable its acceptance by the heart muscle.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. During heart attacks, tissue is destroyed when blood is temporarily cut off to a section of the heart, and this tissue can never be repaired

The scientific journal Circulation Research reports in its on-line issue on two innovations in the researchers' work: one, the use of human embryonic stem cells, and two, the creation of a vascular system in the tissue, which is critical for its acceptance by the body.

"Without this system, acceptance could be prolonged and the cells could die during this time period," explains Levenberg. "In our work, we demonstrated the importance of the endothelial cells (cells that build blood vessels), which encourage differentiation of the heart cells and their organization, in addition to their multiplication. That is - it is important to create heart cell tissue, with all its component cells, in this case the endothelial cells, heart cells and cells that support the blood vessels."
Or this work with rats using human embyonic cells to regenerate spinal tissue.
BOSTON: Human embryonic stem cells can help regenerate damaged nerves in rats, producing compounds that nurture nerve cells and stimulate the growth of new ones, Geron Corp said on Wednesday.

The company's stock rose on the news, published in the journal Stem Cells and Development. Geron had earlier reported that human embryonic stem cells had helped replace myelin, a fatty covering on nerves that is vital to function.

Now, the company's researchers said, they had shown the cells produce multiple nerve growth factors, which are proteins that stimulate the survival and regeneration of neurons.

"In addition to the remyelinating activity as previously reported, GRNOPC1 produces growth factors that can improve the survival and extension of neuronal circuitry in the spinal cord," said Thomas Okarma, Geron's chief executive.
So maybe this research will show that rat stem cells can help humans. Eventually. Or maybe human stem cells are the way to go in humans too.

Fortunately the research is being done.

Here is a bit on Jewish Law and embyonic stem cell research.
Before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 500 at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, medical bioethics expert Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler of New York’s Yeshiva University emphatically stated that Jewish law permits embryonic stem cell research and that Jewish tradition clearly mandates the seeking of cures for diseases that cause great human suffering.

Citing Torah sources, the 80-year-old biology professor and Rosh Yeshiva of the university’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) explained that harvesting stem cells from an early-stage embryo on day five or day six does not violate Jewish law concerning when an embryo achieves legal status as a human being.

"That only occurs after 40 days when the embryo has already reached human form and developed all of its organ systems, including having a heartbeat," Tendler said.

In addition, Tendler explained that embryos in a laboratory in a Petri dish have no chance of becoming children without being implanted in a womb.

"Some Christian groups equate embryonic stem cell research with abortion, but that is not Judaism’s position," Tendler said. "Because the culling of stem cells by necessity results in the destruction of embryos, these groups oppose it."
Evidently the Rabbi understands the difference between an acorn and a tree. Something that escapes the anti-embyonic stem cell research folks.

The Rabbi nails it with a reference to the US Constitution and Torah Law.
"One of the great tragedies of the Bush administration has been the weakening of the wall between church and state, between the religious and the medical," said Tendler, adding that many of America’s leading stem cell scientists are now working in other countries where they have more freedom in research.

"We can be proud that Israel is a world leader in this regard and that many of the best brains in America have gone to do their research at the Weitzman Institute," Tendler said. "Weitzman is the only place so far that has developed stem cells not grown from mice cells."

Because of their regenerative properties, scientists believe that stem cells can be used to treat a variety of degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and spinal cord injury.

"My stance can’t change the controversy," said Tendler, who also serves as rabbi of the Community Synagogue in Monsey, N.Y. "I can only resolve the controversy by saying that if the instruction of the Torah was followed, there would be no controversy. But people don’t follow the Torah."
It is time we got back to the old time religion. If it was good enough for Jesus it is good enough for me.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Uh, didn't it turn out that Judiaism wasn't good enough for Jesus?

Also, while I think Fumento was a bit harsh, his basic point was still valid — this result was very significant and it is telling that NY Times didn't cover it.

M. Simon said...

Susan's Husband,

We have no reports of Jesus changing his religion.

In so far as we know he was a refomer and helped found a Jewish sect.

Early converts were required to get circumcised.

Joseph said...

My usual response is that this attempt to convert me to Christianity did not work. For one thing, the most obvious brand of Christianity to to convert to approves of the "rhythm method," which quite possibly destroys embryos.

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