Yesterday the news broke that scientists led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov at Oregon Health and Science University derived human embryonic stem cells through a process called nuclear transfer (more about that here). The report is an important step forward for the development of stem cell-based therapies because it will allow the comparison of different methods for obtaining embryonic-like stem cells, including human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and now hESCs derived by nuclear transfer (SCNT).
This development is particularly important at time when hESC- and iPSC-based treatments are entering clinical trials. In these early clinical stages, it is critical to evaluate different approaches to understand the best pathway to safe and effective therapies. As George Daley of Harvard University says in a story in The Scientist:
“We are now left to analyze the detailed molecular nature of SCNT-ES cells to determine how closely they resemble embryo-derived ES cells and whether they have any advantages over iPS cells.”
One might think advocates for iPS cell-based therapies would be particularly enthusiastic about the Mitalipov report because it enables comparison of different reprogramming methods. In the world of therapy development, more information is always the better.
However, there are groups of people who take it as dogma that if SCNT succeeds for generating new stem cell lines, reproductive cloning must surely follow. Bernard Siegel, executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute in Palm Beach, Florida is quoted in a story in Nature saying that the response has been “cloning hysteria.”
For instance, one headline from The Business Journals read, “Family Research Council Condemns Human Cloning in Oregon.” Another on the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network web page reads "Human Cloning is Here!" In another piece titled Scientists Clone and Kill Human Embryos for Dubious Research, David Prentice, Senior Fellow for Life Sciences at Family Research Council writes:
“It is a grave concern that some scientists are still pursuing human cloning, a technology that will open the door to human engineering and a brave, but highly dangerous, new world.”
Josephine Quintavalle, amplified this hysteria in a story in The Daily Mail, where she questioned the fundamental motivation of the research saying,
"The suspicion has to be that the real interest is not stem cell therapy per se, given that other uncontroversial approaches are already so successful. Let’s hope that the goal is not out and out reproductive cloning."
This fixation on human cloning persists despite repeated and ongoing efforts to advance socially responsible research under high ethical standards. First, and foremost, the research community supports a ban on human cloning such as the one in California.
Cloning hysteria disparages the accomplishments of scientists who work to ensure responsible application of research. For example, in a press release about the work, Mitalipov emphasized that group does not intend the work to be used for reproductive cloning:
"While nuclear transfer breakthroughs often lead to a public discussion about the ethics of human cloning, this is not our focus, nor do we believe our findings might be used by others to advance the possibility of human reproductive cloning."
It is unfortunate that a breakthrough designed to enable the development of stem cell therapies from any source is subject to unsubstantiated attacks. It is particularly disturbing to see underlying motivations of scientists distorted despite clear statements to the contrary.
Scientists should be recognized for their contributions and not demonized because of prevailing dogma. Galileo was persecuted because his theory that the earth rotated around the sun challenged Church dogma. Let's hope Mitalipov's work doesn't suffer a similar fate by who claim it will lead to cloning.
You have your facts wrong on several points troop numbers in Afganistan increased under President Obama and the increased numbers meant increased casualties besides Afganistan had a lot more to do with 911 than Iraq. The US casualty rate in Afganistan is a lot better than the Russians durring their occupation of that country. Afganistan has a long history of conflict and inflicting pain on occupiers.
I thik everyone needs to look carefully at the IP being tranfered from Geron it may or may not include the Nuclear Transfer IP that is talked about in the article. I doubt Tom would not have gone after that IP in the deal. It can now get around the regection issue for HESC in areas subject to the immune system. This would eleviate a huge area of concern for the FDA.
Human cloning successfully makes embryonic stem cells
Posted on May 15, 2013
For the first time ever, scientists have successfully used somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) via the process of therapeutic cloning to generate normal human embryonic stem cells (hESC).
Recall that there are two kinds of human cloning: therapeutic (which is reported in the new paper discussed in this post) and reproductive, which is making an actual new person with an identical genome to an existing person. The latter has never been achieved, but some of us are worried it is coming sooner than most imagine.
Today’s paper (Masahito Tachibana, et al.) reporting therapeutic cloning, entitled “Human Embryonic Stem Cells Derived by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer” was published in Cell by a team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov (left) at Oregon Health Sciences Universities (OHSU).
It sure seems real this time too unlike 9 years ago with Woo-Suk Hwang.
The press release (PR) from OHSU begins “Major Advance Provides Human Embryonic Stem Cells for Personalized Medicine” and continues:
Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is a technique in which the nucleus of a donor cell is transferred to an egg cell whose nucleus has been removed, generating embryos that are almost an identical genetic match to the donor individual. For the first time, a team of scientists has used SCNT to produce human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). This milestone, published by Cell Press May 15th in the journal Cell, opens up new avenues for using stem cells to understand patient-specific causes of disease and for developing personalized therapies.
A very important part of the paper is the validation of the SCNT-produced hESC lines, which in Figure 6 (see image above at right) looks pretty thorough and solid.
Could SCNT-produced hESC could in some cases fill in where induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) might be suboptimal. Indeed, the PR and the authors highlight this possible:
….concerns that this technique (meaning iPS cells) may generate unexpected mutations in the stem cells means that researchers are still keen to find ways to generate hESCs by other means.
In the discussion, the authors including first author Masahito Tachibana (pictured at left) further point out the potential problems with iPSCs.
So what does this all mean?
Overall, this paper is fascinating and a huge development, but this is a double-edged sword too.
On the one hand successful human SCNT could be used to develop personalized hESC from any patient for therapeutic use. This is very important, positive, and exciting.
On the other hand, the elephant in the room for this paper is the potential for future reproductive human cloning. Apparently there are still some technical obstacles to cloning primates including humans, but this seems like a step toward making reproductive cloning a reality.
What is the difference between reproductive and therapeutic cloning?
One is used to make people (or sheep or other animals) while the other, as reported in this paper, is used to make hESCs (or ESCs from other species) with potential therapeutic benefit. My diagram at the very top shows the methodological similarities and differences.
Bottom line? I hope that therapeutic cloning produced hESC turn out to be a new way for helping many patients. A big next step will be seeing other labs recapitulate this work.
May 15 (Reuters) - After more than 15 years of failures by scientists around the world and one outright fraud, biologists have finally created human stem cells by the same technique that produced Dolly the cloned sheep in 1996: They transplanted genetic material from an adult cell into an egg whose own DNA had been removed.
John Scarlett in the presentation had said that Geron had discussions with the MF trial sponsor prior to the release of data for ET based on Geron ET data he designed his MF data and he is sharing info on his trial with Geron but he controls the release of that information to the public as it is his trial.
MP CA homes is the largest shareholder of SPF they are reducing their position and SPF is acting as the Broker to reduce the cost for MP CA. This has no impact on the underlying position of SPF or the share count. This will allow Hedgefunds to load up on shares.
Hairy I suggest you conact Robert Lawton of the catoosa fund he is the author of those seeking Alpha Articles on Geron. If you email me I willsend you his e-mail. He is currently trying to evaluate the value of the HESC portfolio and determine if the BOD should have been required to have shareholder approval for the BTX deal.
You are talking about the #1 accounting program in the country from one of the top Business programs and the School that had the class dubbed Greed 101 all about Executive compensation.