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Living in the Biotech Century

News, Resources, and Commentary

January 17, 2008



Remarkable results with adult stem cells—a list with documentation...


Adult Stem Cell Success Stories-2007 Update


By David Prentice, William L. Saunders, and Michael Fragoso



“As the reader will see from our prior publication, ‘Adult Stem Cell Success Stories - 2006,’ adult stem cell research had an impressive track record as of 2006-over 1100 FDA approved clinical trials in the United States for 72 different illnesses and disabilities. 2007 has seen further advances in adult stem cell research and therapy. Currently, peer-reviewed studies have documented 73 different conditions in humans where patient health has been improved through adult stem cell therapy, and over 1400 FDA approved trials are ongoing.


“Adult stem cells are found throughout the human body from birth onward, in placentas, and in umbilical cord blood. Unlike embryonic stem cell research, no embryos are destroyed in retrieving them.


“Treatments with adult stem cells continue to be so impressive and continually increasing that we have decided to publish a yearly update each fall/winter. (Note: There have been no successful treatment trials in human beings using embryonic stem cells.) ...”


Family Research Council – January 15, 2007


Editor’s Note:  For a comprehensive survey of adult stem cell research successes prior to 2007, please see the Family Research Council’s paper “Adult Stem Cell Success Stories – 2006.”  The most recent list and a peer-reviewed reference list are also available online.




Please forward this e-mail to anyone who might be interested in staying abreast of the rapidly changing developments in biotechnology and the related area of bioethics.  For more information on The Humanitas Project, contact Michael Poore, Executive Director, at 931-239-8735 or .  Or visit The Humanitas Project web site at



“Presidents and politicians will have to confront vexing choices on subjects that were once solely the province of science fiction...”


Stem Cells and the President—An Inside Account

by Jay P. Lefkowitz



“On August 9, 2001, President Bush announced a compromise decision on the contentious question of whether the federal government should provide financial support for research into the curative properties of human stem cells extracted from embryos.


“Bush’s compromise allowed funding for research into embryonic stem cells that had already been harvested. At the same time, he disallowed funding for procedures that would collect stem cells from frozen (but still living) embryos, since doing so would require their destruction. In the case of those already collected, he said, ‘The life-or-death decision has already been made.’ But that life-or-death decision would not be made anew with taxpayer dollars.


“This decision pleased no one....


“On one day, he met separately with representatives from National Right to Life and then from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Although the recommendations made by each group were predictable, the discussions in both cases were substantive and at times very personal. ‘We’re here on behalf of our children,’ one of the leaders of the diabetes foundation told the President. ‘I’m defending my family.’ When a member of the National Right to Life delegation took out a public-opinion poll to bolster his claim that opposition to stem-cell research would be a winning issue politically, Bush swatted the paper away and replied with uncommon sharpness: ‘This is too important an issue to take polls about. I am going to decide this based on what I believe is right....’”


Commentary Magazine – January 2008


A “proof of concept” experiment using adult stem cells...


Hearts from Cadavers Beat Anew: Study



“In experiments that would make Dr. Frankenstein jealous, US scientists have coaxed recycled hearts taken from animal cadavers into beating in the laboratory after reseeding them with live cells, according to a study released Sunday.


“If extended to humans, the procedure could provide an almost limitless supply of hearts, and possibly other organs, to millions of terminally ill people waiting helplessly for a new lease on life.


“Approximately 50,000 patients in the United States alone die every year for lack of a donor heart, and some 22 million people worldwide are living with the threat of heart failure.


“‘The idea would be to develop transplantable blood vessels or whole organs that are made from your own cells,’ said lead researcher Doris Taylor, director of the Center or Cardiovascular Repair at the University of Minnesota....”


AFP – January 13, 2008


Ruling:  Athletic “technical aids” make for unfair competition...


‘Blade Runner’ Loses Beijing Hopes

Paralympic champion Oscar Pretorius competed in two able-bodied athletics meetings in 2007.

“A Paralympic gold medal winner will not be allowed to compete in the Beijing Olympics later this year after athletics’ governing body ruled that his specially-designed prosthetic limbs gave him an unfair advantage over other runners.


“The International Association of Athletics Federations ruled that Oscar Pistorius’ shock-absorbing carbon-fiber prosthetics gave him a ‘demonstrable mechanical advantage’ compared to able-bodied athletes.


“Pistorius, nicknamed the ‘Blade Runner’ because of his prosthetics, won gold in the 200 meters and a bronze medal in the 100m at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens....” – January 14, 2008


“The allure of chemicals that confer an advantage may be hard to resist...”


Mind-Boosting Drugs in the Faculty Lounge Create Controversy

by Richard Monastersky



“While caffeine reigns as the supreme drug of the professoriate, some university faculty members have started popping ‘smart’ pills to enhance their mental energy and ability to work long hours, according to two University of Cambridge scientists.


“In a commentary published in the journal Nature last month, Barbara Sahakian and Sharon Morein-Zamir revealed the results of their informal survey of a handful of colleagues who study drugs that help people perform better mentally.


“Ms. Morein-Zamir said they asked ‘fewer than 10’ colleagues who have done research on cognitive-enhancing drugs, such as Provigil, which is approved in the United States to treat narcolepsy and other severe sleep disorders. ‘We know that some people, academics—they could be philosophers or ethicists or people who do neuroscience—they chose to take some of these drugs,’ said Ms. Morein-Zamir.


“But brain boosting raises hackles in some parts of academe. ‘It smells to me a lot like taking steroids for physical prowess....’”


The Chronicle of Higher Education – January 11, 2008 (cached)


When your body is your brand...


Jeepers, Rappers, Where’d You Get Those Arms and Torsos?

by Ben Sisario



Scott Gries/Getty Images

Timbaland at the Garden.

“When news surfaced over the weekend that 50 Cent, Wyclef Jean, Timbaland and other rap stars had been implicated in a steroids investigation, some hip-hop fans were shocked, but to many in the industry the accusations seemed inevitable.


“Although public accusations of steroid and human-growth-hormone use by rappers and R&B stars—like Mary J. Blige, who was also named in the investigation, according to a report in The Times Union of Albany—are all but unheard of, the latest news struck a chord about the increasing pressure on these performers to maintain perfect, even superhuman physiques as a part of their overall image and brand....


“The investigation, by the Albany County district attorney’s office, has focused on doctors who illegally prescribe drugs for nonmedical purposes. None of the celebrities have been accused of breaking the law, though The Times Union, citing anonymous sources, reported that the stars have received packages of prescribed steroids and human-growth hormone at their homes, at hotels around the country and at the offices of a Long Island chiropractor....”


The New York Times – January 15, 2008


Key question:  Why do nearly 15 percent of the 700 major leaguers receive drug exemptions for attention deficit and hyperactivity diagnoses?


Congress Targets Tejada


Hearing also brings heat on Selig, Fehr



“Baseball’s drug problem grew thornier yesterday as Congress asked the Justice Department to investigate former American League MVP Miguel Tejada for possibly lying about steroid use and cited a sudden spike in the number of major leaguers who have received medical exemptions to use banned amphetamines.


“Both developments unfolded during a wide-ranging congressional hearing in which commissioner Bud Selig said he is considering punishing baseball officials, including San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean, and players who may have contributed to the game’s steroid crisis.


“While former Senate majority leader George Mitchell defended his blockbuster allegations that Roger Clemens abused illegal steroids and human growth hormone, leaders of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform raised the stakes for Tejada by seeking a criminal investigation into whether he knowingly made false statements in 2005 to the committee, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison....”


The Boston Globe – January 16, 2008


“Futile care” rules allow medical staff to withdraw treatment over a family’s objection...


“Doc Knows Best”

by Wesley J. Smith


It’ll be too late for you, if he’s wrong.



“Who should have the right to decide whether you receive life-sustaining medical treatment during a critical or terminal illness? Most would say with great confidence, ‘Me. Or, if I am unable to decide, then my family.’


“That should be true. Indeed, it used to be true. But in a growing number of hospitals, your right-to-decide is being taken away from you (or your family) by bioethicists and members of the medical intelligentsia who believe that their values and priorities should count more than yours when determining whether you shall receive wanted medical treatment. To put it bluntly, even if you want to live, even if you want medical treatment to enable you to fight for your life, you may be told that the hospital reserves the right to refuse service.


“Welcome to the world of ‘futile-care theory,’ one of the hottest and most-dangerous topics in contemporary bioethics. While you may never have heard of it, stories about the spread of futile-care theory are rife throughout medical and bioethics literature, reported and argued about in such influential publications as The Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine, and The Hastings Center Report.


“Unfortunately, few people read these highbrow publications. Worse, despite being a bombshell story, this growing threat has mostly been ignored by the popular media....”


National Review – January 6, 2003


Discovering the role of individual neurons in the working of the brain...


Single Brain Cell’s Power Shown


There could be enough computing ability in just one brain cell to allow humans and animals to feel, a study suggests.



Nerve cell

Individual cells may be more powerful than thought

“The brain has 100 billion neurons but scientists had thought they needed to join forces in larger networks to produce thoughts and sensations.


“The Dutch and German study, published in Nature, found that stimulating just one rat neuron could deliver the sensation of touch.


“One UK expert said this was the first time this had been measured in mammals....


“‘These studies drive down the level at which relevant computation is happening in the brain....’”


BBC News – December 22, 2007


Choosing children to fit the parent’s lifestyle...


Deaf Demand Right to Designer Deaf Children



“Deaf parents should be allowed to screen their embryos so they can pick a deaf child over one that has all its senses intact, according to the chief executive of the Royal National Institute for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People (RNID).


“Jackie Ballard, a former Liberal Democrat MP, says that although the vast majority of deaf parents would want a child who has normal hearing, a small minority of couples would prefer to create a child who is effectively disabled, to fit in better with the family lifestyle.


“Ballard’s stance is likely to be welcomed by other deaf organisations, including the British Deaf Association (BDA), which is campaigning to amend government legislation to allow the creation of babies with disabilities.


“A clause in the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill, which is passing through the House of Lords, would make it illegal for parents undergoing embryo screening to choose an embryo with an abnormality if healthy embryos exist....”


Times Online – December 23, 2007


Worth considering...


From The Soul of Man Under Secularism



“The modern world has no monopoly on the fear of death or the alienation from God. Alienation is the normal condition of human existence. Rebellion against God is the natural reaction to the discovery that the world was not made for our personal convenience. The further discovery that suffering is visited on the just and unjust alike is hard to square with a belief in a benign and omnipotent creator, as we know from the Book of Job. But it is the comfortable belief that the purposes of the Almighty coincide with our purely human purposes that religious faith requires us to renounce....


“[Jonathan] Edwards speaks directly to those who proudly deny any such need—indeed, who find it galling to be reminded of their dependence on a power beyond their own control or at least beyond the control of humanity in general. Such people find it difficult to acknowledge the justice and goodness of this higher power when the world is so obviously full of evil. They find it difficult to reconcile their expectations of worldly success and happiness, so often undone by events, with the idea of a just, loving, and all-powerful creator. Unable to conceive of a God who does not regard human happiness as the be-all and end-all of creation, they cannot accept the central paradox of religious faith: that the secret of happiness lies in renouncing the right to be happy....


“What makes the modern temper modern, then, is not that we have lost our childish sense of dependence but that the normal rebellion against dependence is more pervasive than it used to be. This rebellion is not new, as Flannery O’Conner reminds us when she observes that ‘there are long periods in the lives of all of us . . . when the truth as revealed by faith is hideous, emotionally disturbing, down-right repulsive. Witness the dark night of the soul in individual saints.’ If the whole world now seems to be going through a dark night of the soul, it is because the normal rebellion against dependence appears to be sanctioned by our scientific control over nature, the same progress of science that has allegedly destroyed religious superstition.


“Those wonderful machines that science has enabled us to construct have not eliminated drudgery, as Oscar Wilde and other false prophets so confidently predicted, but they have made it possible to imagine ourselves as masters of our fate. In an age that fancies itself as disillusioned, this is the one illusion—the illusion of mastery—that remains as tenacious as ever. But now that we are beginning to grasp the limits of our control over the natural world, it is an illusion . . . the future of which is very much in doubt, an illusion more problematical, certainly, than the future of religion.”



“The Soul of Man Under Secularism” is the final chapter in The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy by Christopher Lasch (W. W. Norton & Company, 1995).




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