Monday, August 23, 2010

The Triumph of Life Over Reason... Oh, wait a minute...

Why it's enough to jar me from my reverie over the horrors faced by youth aged out of foster care. Thank you, JC!

A federal appellate court has just temporarily (one hopes) blocked Obama's much touted government funding for stem cell research. In the battle of the National Institutes of Health vs. Nightlight Christian Adoptions, the first round goes to... Nightlight! NCA is an organization that wants to make sure that every embryo has a loving permanent family. (No word on whether gays adopting embryos is cool with these people, but I'm-a kinda suspecting it's a no...) 

According to the NY Times the problem is the ever so charmingly named Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which prohibits the spending of federal money on the destruction of embryos. Because, why embryos are life and that would be like abortion or something. By the by, the NIH specifically requires that a couple donate embryos for this type of research voluntarily and were offered the options of donating their embryos to infertile couples. Some people wanted to donate their embryos for research. Because they wanted to HELP PEOPLE. (The already here ones) But that is not good enough. They may be your embryos, but they're really not YOURS.

Scientific Research That Could Save Many Lives
Pure, Unadulterated Evil
(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons) 
"Pluripotent, embryonic stem cells originate as inner mass cells within a blastocyst. The stem cells can become any tissue in the body, excluding a placenta. Only the morula's cells are totipotent, able to become all tissues and a placenta. Pluripotent, The stem cells can become any tissue in the body, excluding a placenta. Only the morula's cells are totipotent, able to become all tissues and a placenta. Stem cell diagram illustrates a human fetus stem cell and possible uses on the circulatory, nervous, and immune systems." From here.

What is an embryonic stem cell, you ask? It is a collection of 50-150 cells in a blastocyst, which is an egg, four to five days past fertilization. The immortal stem cells we already have should, you'd think, be just a-plenty. But that would be your thought if you don't read that charming little journal Nature Medicine and didn't know about the fact that the present stock of human stem cells that are available for use were discovered, back in 2005, to have been contaminated with non-human DNA that expresses a sialic acid Neu5Gc, likely murine (from a mouse) in origin and to which many humans have antibodies. Thus making it a massively not-swell idea to use these presently available stem cells for human cell therapy. I don't know many people that would want some other species DNA to get into their brain during their Parkinson treatment. Or into their pancreas during their diabetes treatment, for instance. I am totally with them on that. Having been scarred for life by Richard Preston's The Cobra Event and Mira Grant's Feed, I'm really thinking that mixing species' DNA when seeking novel treatments is just not a plan.

Forgive my snide and irritated tone when I say that I am thoroughly disgusted at people seeking to bar research that would potentially cure many diseases in the young and old and in-between population of people already here, all while failing to think about promoting adoption of children who are already here.


Image credit: Molecular Station

© Bright Nepenthe, 2010


  1. Saw this last night and I was just gobsmacked.

    I just.... I mean.... this is one of those times when I step back and go, "Don't something like 70% of fertilized eggs fail to implant and wash out with the menstrual cycle?" Those poor, poor cells.

  2. I assume this will go to the US Supreme Court and, I hope, find in favor of National Institutes of Health. After all, there's that issue about separation of church and state