Yet More Adult Stem Cell Advances

bLogicus has a few posts on recent advances in adult stem cell technology, namely that some Taiwanese scientists have isolated stem cells from placentas, that rats injected with human umbilical cord stem cells after having heart attacks regained nearly normal function, and Stem Cells Inc. has filed with the FDA to start a study on using adult stem cells to treat Batten disease, which affects children’s central nervous systems. To judge from Stem Cell Inc.’s website, it looks like this program would only help recover neurons destroyed by Batten’s disease, not eradicate the root cause itself.


59 thoughts on “Yet More Adult Stem Cell Advances

  1. Steve N

    Ummm…. since when are stem cells from an umbilical cord “embryonic stem cells” ?? Since never I think… Thanks for reporting yet another grand success for “adult” stem cells.


  2. Steve N

    Well, figured I’d add my $0.02 down here and congratulate Jerry for producing the most commented upon post in recent memory…

    I’m just hoping that some Godly types don’t oppose it because it’s against God or something. Everyone else will move toward it and make advances.

    I might note, and I haven’t mentioned this yet, there will probably be opposition to AI, especially if it creates products that can pass a Turing Test. Just to be safe, some Catholic bishop will ask you to start using pre 1990 wintel machines only and restrict your internet access, so saith the lord through proxy…

    This is such bullshit. Mr. Shropshire, if you’re still reading, please provide us (superstitious morons all) a scientific basis for your apparent belief that all avenues of research are ethical. Or at least a scientific justification for the belief that all scientific “advances” are inherently justified.


  3. Steve N

    Well, I suppose if I weigh in further on this conversation, I might help to drive comments up to a new record high. So [fingers crossed] here goes…

    Theo, true to form, says:

    it’s entirely possible that the comforts offered by religion are shallow, that they don’t stand up to scrutiny, and that they don’t satisfy everyone.

    Or, it’s entirely possible that the “comforts” offered by religion are distant, painful, and hard to obtain. Such comforts would not therefore have been found unsatisfying, but rather left unfound… even by the “religious”. If so, then:

    Furthermore, the fact that religion doesn’t affect some people indicates that it isn’t quite what it claims to be.

    is an empty accusation. What do you suppose religion is claiming to be that would cause you to predict that, if true, it would affect all people? On the contrary, I’d say it’s a “miracle” that it actually affects anyone at all!


  4. Philip Shropshire

    Well, if you take a look at the Discovery Institute, who Funky unwittingly cites through his one link, they seem to take the opposite tack: that all scientific research is harmful! If they make breakthroughs in AI, then expect them to be the one to oppose those breakthroughs. Remember: these are the folks who have led the war in Intelligent Design. They’re against the future. Religious myth can’t accomodate rapid singularity like changes. If there are four cloned versions of me, which soul goes to Heaven…

    My dreams are humble by tne way: I want extended lifespans and genetic improvements because I think the solar system with a 100 trillion people. We need genetic engineering to do that. We have to become better and smarter. Prayer has nothing to do with that…

  5. Steve N

    Well, you have to look at the precondition: “If so, then…” I.e., if the comforts of religion are difficult to obtain, then you can’t very well fault the masses for not finding them apparent. I’m not trying to get all Manicheist (Gnostic) here or anything, I’m just saying that Christianity isn’t a Recipe for the Satisfying Life. It isn’t some 12-step program–a guaranteed path to happiness and self-actualization. Some may very well market it as such, and they might very well get rich doing so, but that is beside my point.

    I don’t see why something that is the most “real” necessarily ought to also be the most readily “apparent.” I’d expect the opposite. If the entire cosmos is really just a coconut floating, bobbing around, on the ocean of the Mind of God, then it seems rather unlikely (at least to me) that the coconut’s inhabitants would readily be able to conceive of the ocean itself (as least as it truly is), or for that matter, the palm tree from which they’ve fallen. It could just be a failure to see the forest due to too many trees.

    Even today in the natural world, we seek the fundamental stuff of the universe, the truly fundamental “particle” (set of equations really) that ties together quantum mechanics and gravity. Thus far it has been extremely elusive. To this day, some doubt whether such a unifying principle will ever be found. Some claim we’d need atom smashers the size of the solar system, &c. And even if it is discovered (which I actually do expect some day), do we honestly think it will be an intuitively obvious principle? Something we could easily explain to the “savages” in the “deepest jungle”? And even if we do all this, then who’s to say that we won’t find even more, perhaps unimagined or unimaginable, fundamental forces at work in the cosmos, which will send the best and most brilliant all back to the drawing boards?

    On the contrary, it seems the deeper we go (i.e., the closer we get to the “more real”), the more unreal (less apparent) it all seems. On scales above about +/- 25 orders of magnitude removed from our own size, the human mind is utterly uncapable of perceiving reality as it actually is. Instead we rely on equations, which can often accurate predictions… and fanciful stories to try and make them make actual sense.


    [3 more and we’ll have a record, I think…]


  6. Steve N

    Well… as Theomorph wisely concluded about 40 comments ago…

    Mr. Shropshire, you dishonor civilization and rationalism with your attitude.

    Although it is interesting to note, while we’re on the subject of AI, that it would appear that Mr. Shropshire has failed the Turing test! Nice try, whoever you are! It did take us a while to figure it out…

    Funky, the entity Mr. Shropshire (whether a sophomoric attempt at AI or not) fancies himself a great defender of agnostic rationalism and logic. With defenders like this, who needs enemies? I’d watch out, sir… Mr. Spock is not going to be pleased… he may just smite you for being such a lousy servant…

    I’m off to concoct with eye of toad and tail of newt… 😉


  7. theomorph

    Who’s making ad hominem accusations? I was just pointing out the verifiable historical fact that religious disputes have resulted in far more spilled blood than scientific disputes. Wherever you go from there is another matter.

    Your assessment that science is narrower than religion in its focus confuses the issue, though. The problem, for most people, is not about whether science and religion overlap in their content matter, but whether their basic methods contradict one another.

    Scientific inquiry does not admit as fact what cannot be observed or replicated. Then there is a fight over the theory that attempts to explain the facts. However, it has always been the case that one theory wins out and the others are cast aside.

    Religion will admit almost anything as fact, even the subjective experiences of individuals. Then there is a fight over the reality of the subjective experience (e.g., why is Paul’s vision a “fact” and Mohammed’s not, for some people, or vice versa for others?), followed by a fight over the theological explanation and ramifications of the new “fact” (or the discounting of the potential fact). Then, after somebody has won that fight and gained political power, there’s another fight over the right to impose the new interpretation on others. On it goes, because no one way ever wins out completely (e.g., Christianity)–the others just lick their wounds or suffer oppression until they either attempt to rise again (e.g., “radical” Islam), or adjust their theology to account for their perpetual state of non-winningness (e.g., Judaism).

    While scientists might be dogmatic about their own theories, that dogmatism often dies with them. Good scientists are able to discard bad theories, though. In religion, however, discarding your beliefs (in any religion) is just about the worst thing you can do. That difference in method is what puts science and religion at odds.

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