Monday, January 08, 2007

Pluripotent Amniotic Stem Cells

This new development will take all the fun out of abortion justification. Reasons why amniotic stem cells are better:

Atala says that compared with other types of pluripotent stem cells--save embryonic stem cells--AFS cells are "truly pluripotent" and that their major advantage is that after two weeks of culturing they expand quickly, doubling every 36 hours so that they are in large supply.

When compared with embryonic stem cells, AFS cells have two main advantages: First, no embryo needs to be harmed in harvesting the cells, sidestepping a major, hot-button political issue. Also, as Atala points out, AFS cells will not form tumor cells, as the considerably more raw embryo-derived cells can. "They're not as early and they're not as wild," he explains. "The cells are further along the line of development--and you don't see fetuses developing tumors--so these cells are much more controlled." Atala adds that the AFS cells lie between embryonic and adult stem cells in that the former expand quickly, but can develop into tumors, whereas the latter will not become cancerous, but grow exceedingly slowly.
This is truly good news. Sorry to be so snarky, I'm just really tired of the obfuscation and mendacity around this issue. Science surrenders to politics and ethically-challenged politics, at that. My love for Michael J. Fox's humor, notwithstanding, I don't want someone else to die so he won't shake.

My mind is set to wonderin' now. Will stem cell banks open up? For example, I might be willing to have amniocentesis to store it frozen for the cells if necessary. It is probably too soon to tell where this research will go, but the possibilities are truly encouraging.

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