Stem Cells: Adult and Pluripotent In The News

In my local newspaper whose writers highly endorse embryonic stem cell research, reported nothing on adult stem cell research but rather focused on a study about reprogrammed stems cells. Science Daily also reported on this…

“Adult cells that have been reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) do not completely let go of their past, perhaps limiting their ability to function as a less controversial alternative to embryonic stem cells for basic research and cell replacement therapies, according to researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston, John Hopkins University and their colleagues.”

IPS was first accomplished back in 2007, so scientists have a long way to go in understanding it’s implications and it’s usefulness in treatments. How much of a limitation does it have? Only time will tell. In the meantime, there is great news about the progress of adult stem cell research!

Can you imagine a hospital or on the battlefield getting huge amounts of blood to treat people without donors?  Scientists working for the Pentagon have develope artificial blood from hematopoietic stem cells which comes from umbilical cords! These blood cells are functionally indistinguishable from normal blood cells which could solve the  problem of blood shortages and being able to be transported to inaccessible areas. It will eventually be tested on humans in 2013.

How can fat in our bodies strengthen our bones? Fat contains useful stem cells and it’s already been tested in race horses…

“The method employs a gel-like material to encourage stem cells from fat to regenerate damaged bone. The stem cells have been shown to stimulate the growth of small blood vessels in developing bone, encouraging healing. The gel keeps the stem cells at the injury site; as the bone heals, the gel breaks down. Straight injection of stem cells has a limited effect,” Leach said. “If we can localize the cells at the treatment site, the treatments should be more effective.”

What about heart patients? Rather than having to extract bone marrow, doctors can use adult stem cells right in the heart tissue itself.  “Using heart-derived stem cells to treat heart attack and cardiomyopathy has some advantages over embryonic and induced pluripotent cells as they are potentially safer,” the article said.  “It’s also notable that of these three cell types, it’s only heart-derived cells that are in current human clinical trials for this sort of treatment.”

Nature became very concern when a ruling was delivered in favor of adult stem cell research funding from a group who believed their work was being shunned by the Obama Admistration shift in policy to embryonic stem cell research. Editors claim the public who funds the research has no say rather it’s “Peer review should be enough to decide which projects merit funding,” they say!

Jeff Harvey who spoke on behalf on taxpayers said…

“This is perhaps the real problem with scientists–we often think we are the only ones capable of judging our actions.  But consider what would happen if every group thought the same about their own group.  Teaching can only be judged by teachers, highway paving can only be judged by pavers, judges can only be judged by judges, presidents by other presidents, despots by other despots, and criminals by other criminals.  What a beautiful world THAT would be!!!”

11 thoughts on “Stem Cells: Adult and Pluripotent In The News

  1. So what do you actually know about stem cells, now that we have established that you have no scientific credibility whatsoever (you refused to answer question 2) ?

    You just quote some people, and that’s it. What are you adding ?

    And what are you trying to achieve with this blog, as there are so very few readers, whom you mostly ignore ?

  2. Michael,

    I’m still waiting for an answer. You said make no distinctions on banning IPs. Now please name me one Creationist IP you have banned. If you can’t, why shouldn’t I assume that you DO make distinctions? . . . . This question will be added to my challenge if you continually ignore it.

    And also, my flagellum challenge is also waiting. . . . Not going away!!!!

  3. Don’t forget the substantive review of Signature in the Cell, which you promised way back in August. Wow. That’s almost a year now! Another claim that you can slough off, hoping we’ll all forget?

    How about starting small? Perhaps analyzing Meyer’s twelve predictions in Appendix A?

    For example, #8 (p497): “If a designing intelligence acted discretely in the history of life, the various subdisciplines of biology should show evidence of polyphyly.”

    You might show us what kinds of evidence would indicate polyphyly. Then where we might look for such evidence. And interpret specific research already performed in this light. (e.g., observations that some organisms do not use all of the amino acids in others.)

    And, finally, since common descent encompasses “one or a few progenitors, why polyphyly per se would actually constitute evidence of design.

    There. Make a start, Michael. You don’t have to do it all at once. Steve Matheson is doing it a chapter at a time in his “Quintessence of Dust” blog. He’s up to Chapters 9 & 10 at the present time.

  4. Can you imagine a hospital or on the battlefield getting huge amounts of blood to treat people without donors? Scientists working for the Pentagon have develope artificial blood from hematopoietic stem cells which comes from umbilical cords! These blood cells are functionally indistinguishable from normal blood cells which could solve the problem of blood shortages and being able to be transported to inaccessible areas. It will eventually be tested on humans in 2013.

    The popular press cot only can imagine it, they do imagine it, in effusive terms and at Brobdingnagian length. Thus inflaming the expectations of the scientifically unwashed. When the reality is less than stellar, who gets blamed? The media? Fat chance. It’s the scientists.

    What would help greatly here is precisely the thing that creationists oppose—better and more thorough education in science generally, and in biology specifically. Not only in the subject matter, but in the way that science operates and the tools it employs. Here, I am reminded of some of the questions that I have asked Michael for establishing his credibility. (To no avail of course. The questions have been met with silence.)

    ==For example, you read a news item that the lowest cancer rates are found in counties with the smallest population. How much of our hard-earned tax dollars should the Centers for Bloated Government allocate to studying the relationship between cancer and rural lifestyle? Where would you expect to find the highest cancer rates?

    ==A certain disease, drivelalia factosis, kills 100 Americans every year. A scientist has developed a test for DF that is 95% accurate, yet costs only $50 per person. Should the government mandate it as a required preventive measure under ObamaCare?

    ==Your Lower Middle School superintendent boasts that the average math scores of every racial group in your district went up last year. Can we infer that the average score of all students increased? Why, or why not?

    ==The latest political polls show the Creationist candidate ahead of the Fringe Liberal candidate by 55% to 45%, with a margin of error of 5%. What are the chances that the Liberal candidate would win the election? What other number do you need to know in order to determine this?


    As you may appreciate, this type of question is critical to informed decisions on matters of public policy. Michael quotes Jeff Harvey, ““This is perhaps the real problem with scientists–we often think we are the only ones capable of judging our actions.”

    So how about it, Michael. You’re welcome to try these questions again. Perhaps you will show us that you know enough to decide policy regarding scientific questions.

    But somehow, I doubt it.

  5. And furthermore.

    Reflecting upon my previous rant, note that none of the above questions require any knowledge of the subject matter of a science. In fact, all involve statistics.

    Seems to this humble scribe that we are wasting time in high school math teaching calculus, even to the advanced students.[1] We should be teaching discrete math—especially statistics.

    For those who will end their math education there, statistics is useful in evaluating advertising claims, making decisions, and everyday matters that common beer-swilling creationists do. For those who wish to pursue technical careers, statistics would be of a lot more practical use than calculus. For those who wish to become scientists, experimental design is fraught with statistical pitfalls for the untrained. Even in my field of law, the concept of “statistical causation” is useful in cases involving medical malpractice, product liability, and other areas. And politics—well, note that several of the above questions involved deciding matters of public policy on the basis of statistical evidence.

    I guess the only field where an education in statistics would not be useful is in religion. Because matters of theology are occasionally in error, but never in doubt.


    [1] After a few introductory concepts, it’s mostly hints and kinks. Now if you could get into deeper interesting stuff such as distributions, path integrals, and Lebesgue measures….

  6. Education seems to derive people away from creationism. Appreciating that the plural of “anecdote” is not “data,” here is an anecdote I stumbled across just now.

    was raised a Baptist in rural Kentucky. So it should not surprise anyone that I was a creationist when I entered college. Of course, considering that I majored in recombinant gene technology, it should also not surprise anyone that I encountered a bit of cognitive dissonance. The first solution was to become a believer in intelligent design – though I didn’t know at the time there was in fact such a movement afoot. But then, by the time I graduated, the understanding I had of living things as evolving complex systems had made me a full-fledged Darwinian.

    The author’s point in relating his background is to air the result of his education—that knowledge negates creationsim.

    For someone who understands evolution and self-organizing complex systems, the truth of biological evolution is overwhelming. So why, then, do we still have people who believe in creationism or intelligent design? There are many answers to this. Some find it simpler to understand. Others believe any order requires an orderer, and haven’t learned what is necessary to learn otherwise. Still others believe it is the only way to ensure a moral universe (something which is rapidly being answered by the work of such people as Marc Hauser and other evolutionary psychologists). But in the end, no matter what the reason, it all boils down to choosing faith over reality.

    Another real-life story to add to the collection.

  7. Michael,

    While you are speaking of “cells,” stem or otherwise, . . .

    On July 21, 2009 (in 7 days, it will be a year), you said this:

    Many topics are covered in this book that provide evidence for intelligent design so I’m going to break the review down in parts. One of the very first things I noticed about Meyer is the fact that he’s not an in your face writer, but rather he’s very polite, and smart while his commentary gives positives and negatives to the opposition namely the defenders of evolution.

    And you also added,

    Next, I’ll deal with the signature in the cell that tells us it was designed rather than accidently put together through natural processes.

    Link to original post:

    Out of curiosity, . . . . why not just do the book review of Singature in the Cell. . .

    You said you would do it. So, why not do it?

  8. Krissmith, I’ve suggested many times that Michael divide up the review, if he can’t do it all at once.

    For, example, he could review the 12 predictions that Meyer makes. We would wish to know the kind of evidence that would support them, any mainstream papers that might validate therm (and why), and which ID acolytes have performed experiments or field expeditions to test them. Oh—perhaps most importantly, why the validation of any of these predictions would be positive evidence for intelligent design.

  9. It’s alright if he changed his mind. But I’d prefer him saying he changed his mind for some reason or another.

  10. PZ Myers has a short but lucid Intro to Evolution 201, which deals with a common misconception as to evolution. He explains fitness in terms of networks and systems. A short summary—

    What’s left out in the 101 story, and in creationist tales, is that: evolution is about populations, so many changes go on in parallel; selectable traits are usually the product of networks of genes, so there are rarely single alleles that can be categorized as the effector of change; and genes and gene networks are plastic or responsive to the environment. All of these complications make the actual story more complicated and interesting, and also, perhaps to your surprise, make evolutionary change faster and more powerful.

    This presses my hot button of complex-systenms theory, which is still only beginning to seep into biology.

    Some good reading , Michael. Good reading for us all.

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