Last "Rational" Reason for Opposing Embryonic Stem Cell Research is Gone
|Anti-science opponents persist in objecting to research.|
The last possible "rational" reason for opposing the funding of embryonic stem cell research has been removed. Newsweek reports that Advanced Cell Technology of California has published a paper in Nature's advanced online edition stating that their scientists have used a single cell extracted from a human embryo to produce embryonic stem cells. This procedure would allow the donor embryo to continue developing normally, thus acheiving the goal of creating embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos.
In the procedure, a single cell (blastomere) was removed from a donated embryo (a), the donor embryo was able to continue developing normally (b), the removed blastomere was allowed to grow overnight in the presence of human embryonic stem cells expressing a green fluorescent protein (c,d) (the green cells in d are embryonic stem cells used as feeder cells for the blastomere, and the cell with the arrow pointing to it in c and d is the blastomere derived cell) blastomere derived human embryonic stem cells grow normally (e).
The researchers envision their technique being used by families undergoing IVF to have children who want to have pre-implantation genetic diagnosis done to ensure that the implanted embryo does not carry a genetic disease. A single cell would be removed from the blastocyst and allowed to grow and divide separately producing cells that could be used for the establishment of embryonic stem cell lines as well as for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.
Ten experiments were performed using sixteen donated embryos, resulting in 19 embryonic stem cell like outgrowths and two stable pluripotent embryonic stem cell lines. This success rate is similar to others in which the whole embryo is used to derive stem cells. These lines had the capacity to develop into all three germ layers.
a–g, Staining for markers of pluripotency, showing Oct-4 (a) and corresponding DAPI staining (b), TRA-1-60 (c), TRA-1-81 (d), SSEA-3 (e), SSEA-4 (f) and alkaline phosphatase (g). Scale bar, 200 m. h, Representative chromosome spreads of the two single-blastomere-derived hES cell lines. i, RT–PCR analysis of the expression of markers of pluripotency in single-blastomere-derived hES cell lines. Top panel, Oct-4; centre panel, nanog; bottom panel, GAPDH. Lane 1, no template; lane 2, negative control (MEFs); lane 3, MA01; lane 4, MA09; lane 5, WA01.
These lines continued to divide in an undifferentiated state for eight months.
From the paper's author:
Remove the last "rational" reason for opposing stem cell research? Yeah, I'd say we've reached that point by now. Let's see what other reasons there might be for opposing this research.
"Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of pro-life activities at the
The company's supporters remain optimistic:
"I think this will become a standard way of producing stem cell lines," said
Although this procedure is completely foreseen by the company's previous work using mouse embryos it is useful for deomonstrating that there is no amount of back-bending, or hoop-jumping that will satisfy religious extremists who oppose scientific advancement.
Nature advance online publication 23 August 2006 doi:10.1038/nature05142;
The only blog inspired by a Bumper Sticker.