FRC Blog

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

June 25, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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Precision Adult Stem Cells, Not Embryonic Sledgehammers

by David Prentice

June 25, 2009

Adult Stem Cells, Not Embryonic Stem Cells, Best Suited For Muscle Repairsledgehammersmash

New research published online in the journal Nature suggests that adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cells, are appropriate for use in therapies for repairing damaged and diseased muscle. Researchers from Maryland and Indiana report that experiments with mice show the genes involved in muscle development are turned off soon after birth, and are not used by adult stem cells that repair muscle. Lead author Christoph Lepper said “I thought that if they are so important in the embryo, they must be important for adult muscle stem cells. I was totally surprised to find that the muscle stem cells are normal without them.”

In their paper the authors note:

Changes in genetic requirement for muscle stem cells from embryonic to juvenile to adult stages elucidate the inadequacy of applying knowledge gained from developmental studies to adult stem-cell biology. Our discovery should encourage future investigations into how widespread genetic transitions may occur in different adult stem-cell types. Age-dependent differences in stem-cell properties should also urge careful consideration of the age of stem cells used in transplantation-based regenerative medicine.”

The implications? Studying embryonic stem cells is an inadequate substitute for directly studying how adult stem cells carry out their normal repair functions in the body, and embryonic stem cells themselves are inadequate substitutes for adult stem cells in medical therapies. In other words, don’t use a sledgehammer instead of precision equipment.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

June 23, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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My Pops Pelican Hooks

by Robert Morrison

June 19, 2009

[caption id=”attachment_1374” align=”alignleft” width=”182” caption=”Drawing of a Pelican Hook”]pelicanhook2[/caption]

Your father was a real hero, Manual Dias told me. The 88-year old World War II veteran had contacted me in 2008. He knew my late father when the two men served in the Merchant Marine together. I made a point of visiting Manny and his wonderful family in Massachusetts this spring.

Manny remembered every detail of the sinking of the SS Deer Lodge on 17 Feb 43. Your father ran around the deck unlatching the pelican hooks on the rubber boats. That was not his assigned duty. Without that, many of our crewmen would have died, Im sure. Manny corrected an earlier misimpression Id had: that my father ran around cutting the stays for those boats and pitching the boats overboard. No, Manny said, if hed done that, the boats might have struck some men in the water. The boats could have killed them. No, Pop had to unlatch those pelican hooks one-by-one, as the ship was rapidly sinking.

[caption id=”attachment_1373” align=”alignright” width=”182” caption=”Photo of a Pelican Hook”]Photo of a Pelican Hook[/caption]

My father, Leslie Morrison, passed away at the age of 87, in 1998. He was loved and honored by his entire family. But this contact with one of his dearest friends and shipmates thrilled me. It was like a message in a bottle. Or, like a message from heaven.

My dad talked about the sinking of the Deer Lodge, of course. He never claimed to be a hero. He always minimized his own role that fateful night. He never mentioned those pelican hooks. When he and his shipmates were rescued, Pop told me they were taken to a nice hotel in South Africa. Mostly, Pop regaled us with stories of how he got to play tennis every day for six weeks with the rather attractive South African womens tennis champion.

When my cousin Barbara interviewed Pop on the fiftieth anniversary of the sinking, she was amazed. Pop told her that when the U-boat skipper finished questioning the men in the life boats, he had simply turned the submarine around and steamed away. Wasnt that horrible, my cousin asked, just to leave you there? At least he didnt shoot us, Pop answered.

Manny told me much more about that German U-boat commander. He was a humane man. He gave us water, food, and charts.

Through my own research, I had learned that the German submarine was the U-516 and her skipper was KorvettenKapitan Gerhard Wiebe. I was astonished, too, at the extraordinary kindness of Captain Wiebe.

Manny told me that Captain Wiebe had delayed sending in the second torpedo to finish off the Deer Lodge. If he had followed up his first fish with a second, just minutes later, he could have killed dozens of the seamen clambering over the sides of the stricken American vessel. But something in his heart told him to hold back. Was there a single case of an American submarine commander providing such aid, say, to a Japanese freighter he had just torpedoed?

Growing up, I had been surprised at my fathers complete lack of bitterness toward the Germans. He had survived that sinking, true, but his elder brother Harry had been torpedoed in the South Atlantic just a few months before Pop was. Harry was first rescued by a Dutch merchant vessel off Brazil. Then, that ship was torpedoed and Harry and almost the entire crew were lost. Pops attitude reflected the wisdom of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The line between good and evil runs not between classes or nations, but through the heart of every man.

Along with treasured photographs of Pop in my study, I keep a plaque he gave me. It shows a German U-boat in brass, mounted on a plain wooden background. It reminds me of that incredible story of the high seas. Its a tale of honor, courage, forgiveness, and humanity in the midst of the most terrible war. And Ill thank God for all that my father meant to me and to my own family.

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Obama Terminates Bioethics Council

by David Prentice

June 19, 2009

The President’s Council on Bioethics is no more. With a one-day notice, the members were told in a letter from the President that their services were no longer required. Pack up, get out. Forget the fact that they had a couple of interesting reports coming out soon, one more meeting, and that the Council’s tenure would expire come this September.

Peter Lawler, member of the now-defunct Council, notes that he is reassured when the letter states that “President Obama recognizes the value of having a commission composed of experts on bioethical issues to provide objective and non-ideological advice to his Administration.” Maybe it’s because the President wants to change to bioethics. Maybe it’s because he’s smarting a bit because, when he issued his new executive order opening the door to more human embryo research and cloning, 10 of the 18 current Council members criticized his new policy. But a more likely reason is that he needs a philosophical, well-stacked bioethics rubber stamp.

The National Institutes of Health, as directed by the President, is crafting new guidelines for federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. After a short period soliciting comments on their proposed guidelines, they are scheduled to release the final guidelines no later than July 7. It would be embarrassing to have another round of criticism from an existing “President’s Council.” Better to show them the door.

The proposed guidelines on human embryonic stem cell research are more limited than what the President proposed. NIH draws the line at using “excess” embryos from fertility clinics, though they note that the guidelines can be changed whenever they want. But President Obama called for much more, including cloning of embryos for experiments. A number of scientists have chafed and whined at the proposed NIH limits on embryo creation and destruction.

Dr. Alta Charo, an ethicist at the University of Wisconsin and member of the Obama transition team, said that a new commission should focus on helping the government form ethically defensible policy.

Translation: rubber stamp.

Look for a new commission soon with members that will be ideologically in line with the White House, Charo to be a member, and the new commission swiftly to consider (and to agree with the President) the issue of stem cells, cloning, and embryo experiments.

The now-former President’s Council on Bioethics was constituted in 2001, and chaired first by Leon Kass and then Ed Pellegrino. It’s mandate was “Advising the President on ethical issues related to advances in biomedical science and technology.” Pellegrino is quoted on the current site: “To advance human good and avoid harm, biotechnology must be used within ethical constraints. It is the task of bioethics to help society develop those constraints and bioethics, therefore, must be of concern to all of us.” You might want to take a look at their accomplishments before their website is erased.

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Rape of a Minor — No Joke!

by Sherry Crater

June 18, 2009

The furor over David Lettermans outrageously crude comments regarding the 14-year- old daughter of Gov. Sarah Palin being knocked up by New York Yankee Alex Rodriquez has quieted down. Governor Palin accepted the apology of the 62-year-old Letterman on behalf of young women like her daughters who want to draw the line, in her words, with men who joke about sexual exploitation of girls.

After much prodding even the National Organization for Women (NOW), certainly not fans of Sarah Palin, had a statement on this situation. NOWs website said: Comedians in search of a laugh should really know better than to snicker about men having sex with teenage girls (or young women) less than half their age.

Letterman may have dodged a bullet in the Palin incident. However, his lewd sexual comments exposed again the hard, ugly truth that criminal sexual abuse of underage girls by older men is occurring in communities all across America. Adding insult to injury, the abuse is actually being covered up by some who claim to help young women.

Consider the findings of a young student at UCLA, Lila Rose, who did some investigative reporting on Planned Parenthood clinics around the nation. Equipped with a hidden camera and posing as an underage girl impregnated by a much older man, Lila produced videos and audio tapes of her interviews with Planned Parenthood personnel.

Lilas work exposed sexual abuse, including unreported statutory rape, as well as other blatant violations by Planned Parenthood of state statutes that were intended to protect young girls.

Above is a video of Lila posing as a 13-year-old girl going to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Indianapolis, IN for an abortion because she is pregnant by her 31-year-old boyfriend. The counselor violated Indiana law by not reporting the apparent statutory rape of a minor girl. Further, she went on to coach the young girl on how to conceal an abortion and get around parental consent laws by going to a surrounding state for an abortion.

For more examples of criminal violations of law by Planned Parenthood go here.

Sarah Palin was rightsexual exploitation of young girls is no laughing matter. There is nothing funny about it.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

June 17, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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Good News from the States

by David Prentice

June 17, 2009

While the federal government lurches toward ignoring patients and wasting more taxpayer dollars on unethical, unsuccessful embryonic stem cell research, there are some bright spots in several states where ethics, and real adult stem cell treatments, are being promoted.

States-good-news2

LOUISIANA

Prohibiting Human-Animal Hybrids

SB 115 has been sent to Gov. Jindal for his signature (expected); it is a bill that would outlaw attempts to create a human-animal hybrid; transferring a human embryo into a nonhuman womb; or transferring a nonhuman embryo into a human womb.

Prohibiting State Funds for Human Cloning

In June 2008, the state passed a law to prohibit the use of any state money, or federal money channeled through the state, for the practice, known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning).

OKLAHOMA

Human Cloning Prohibited

In May 2009, Oklahoma passed a law that prohibits the creation of human embryos through cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer) for the purpose of harvesting their stem cells and prohibits reproductive cloning (gestating cloned embryos for birth) (HB 1114).

Oklahoma Adult Stem Cell Research Gets $5.5 Million

Also in May 2009, the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust board voted to contribute $5.5 million to adult stem cell research.

GEORGIA

Nation’s First Embryo Adoption Law

In May 2009 Georgia enacted a peach of a bill, the Option of Adoption Act. HB 388, sponsored by Rep. James Mills and Sen. David Shafer, allows legal adoption of human embryos.

Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos

Another bill working its way through the Georgia Legislature is SB 169, the “Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act”. Sponsored by Sen. Ralph Hudgens, the bill would ban the creation of embryos for research purposes and prohibit human cloning in Georgia. It passed the Georgia Senate in March 2009 and now awaits a hearing in the House, likely this Fall.

MINNESOTA

No Funds for Human Cloning at U MN

In May 2009, Gov. Pawlenty signed a higher education funding bill that includes language that prohibits the University of Minnesota from using taxpayer dollars to pursue human cloning. Last year he vetoed a bill that would have allowed the University of Minnesota to spend state funds on cloning and embryonic stem cell research.

VIRGINIA

No State Funds for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

In March 2009, Gov Kaine signed a budget bill that includes a prohibition on state funds for embryonic stem cell research. Virginia has been investing its funds into successful adult stem cell research.

TEXAS

Money for Adult Stem Cell Researchers

In February 2009, Gov. Perry announced that the state will invest $5 million to expand and recruit researchers to the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine. As the Governor noted, “Commercialization of adult stem cell research will provide much-needed solutions for Texans suffering from various tissue and organ disorders while protecting the unborn from exploitation.”

The Texas Legislature moved part way toward helping that goal, with the Texas Senate in May 2009 passing a bill (SB 73) to establish a statewide adult stem cell research program. Unfortunately time in the session ran out before the House could consider the bill.

Texas Cord Blood Bank expands to Houston

In other Texas news, the Texas Cord Blood Bank formed partnerships with two of Houstons leading hospitals to collect blood from the discarded umbilical cords of healthy newborns; the cord blood adult stem cells can be used to treat various diseases. Houston has already shown its leadership in clinical trials using adult stem cells.

NEBRASKA

Money for Adult Stem Cell Research, No Clone Funds

In March 2008, Nebraska passed LB 606, a law that prohibits the use of state money, facilities or resources to conduct research that destroys human embryos or that creates cloned embryos for research or reproduction. The new law also will provide grants to encourage stem cell research by Nebraska institutions and researchers that does not use human embryos.

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