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[STEM CELL] is this what we've been all waiting 4?

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South Korean Scientists Make Major Breakthrough in Stem Cell Research

By Jim Bertel

Washington DC

21 May 2005

Scientists in South Korea have made a major medical breakthrough in stem cell research. They have created the first human cells that are customized to specific patients.

Sabrina Cohen was 14 when she was paralyzed in a car accident. This discovery could change her life. She says, "it could restore my ability to walk again."

And she is not alone. Scientists say it could lead to cures for Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases.

Here's how it works: Researchers take a skin cell from a patient with an illness and extract the DNA, the body's genetic code. The DNA is then injected into a specially prepared donated egg, which develops into an embryo genetically identical to the patient. That embryo is full of stem cells, building blocks for everything the body needs, muscles, eye cells or in Sabrina's case, healthy nerve cells for her spinal cord.

John Gearhart is a stem cell researcher at Johns Hopkins University. He says, "If you have a heart attack, stroke, when you grow new cells, they will integrate and repair the person's injury.

But creating a cloned embryo is still very controversial work. Opponents, including Dave Prentice of the Family Research Council, are criticizing the discovery. Mr. Prentice says, "You are creating cloned human embryos, clone human beings for destruction, simply for experiments. And today's results make that more likely.�

It is also reigniting the political debate over stem cell research in the United States. The U.S. House of Representatives could vote next week on a bill that would broaden the limits on government funds for embryonic stem cell research. In 2001 U.S. President George W. Bush restricted stem cell research, authorizing the use of federal funds only for research on existing stem cells. On Friday, the president said he opposes expanding those limits.

George Bush at news conference

George W. Bush

"But I made it very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life is - I'm against that. And therefore, if the bill does that, I will veto it," says president Bush.

Scientists say it will be five to ten years before they are ready to test this stem cell therapy on patients.

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=== using taxpayers money to kill innocent people in iraq is ok then ??

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Date Posted: May 20, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) -- South Korean scientists have dramatically sped up the creation of human embryonic stem cells, growing 11 new batches that for the first time were a genetic match for injured or sick patients. It is a major advancement in the quest to grow patients' own replacement tissue to treat diseases.

The same scientists last year were the first to clone a human embryo. Now they have improved, by more than tenfold, their efficiency at culling these master cells, thus making pursuit of therapeutic cloning more practical.

"I didn't think they would be at this stage for decades, let alone within a year," said Dr. Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh. He acted as an adviser to the Korean lab in analyzing its data, which was being published Friday in the journal Science.

"This paper will be of major impact," said stem-cell researcher Dr. Rudolph Jaenisch of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass. "The argument that it will not work in humans will not be tenable after this."

This research is not cloning to make babies. Instead, scientists create test-tube embryos to supply stem cells, the building blocks which give rise to every tissue in the body and which are a genetic match for a particular patient, preventing rejection by the immune system.

If scientists could harness the regenerative power of those stem cells, they might be able to repair damage from spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Parkinson's and other diseases.

Stem cells also can come from embryos left over in fertility clinics. But these cells would not be a genetic match for any patient.

Any potential therapy is years away from being tested in people. But the new research marks several advances:

- Last year's cloned stem cells were from one healthy woman. This time, the Seoul scientists created stem cells that were genetic matches to each of 11 patients-- male and female, as young as age 2 and as old as 56, suffering either spinal cord injuries, diabetes or a genetic immune disease.

- Last year, it took attempts with 242 donated human eggs to grow one batch of stem cells. This time, it took an average of 17 eggs per batch and 14 eggs if they were from women younger than 30.

- The researchers eliminated use of mouse "feeder cells" that, until now, have been used to nourish human stem-cell lines, easing concerns about animal contamination.

The research also will add to the political sparring over whether to expand government-funded stem cell research in the United States.

Because culling stem cells destroys the days-old embryo harboring the cells, President Bush in 2001 banned federally funded research on all but a few old embryonic stem-cell lines. A vote on whether to ease those restrictions could come in the House as early as next week.

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