Scientists in Singapore have grown 'clean' human embryonic stem cells
August 6, 2002 12:19 AM   Subscribe

Scientists in Singapore have grown 'clean' human embryonic stem cells which would pose no threat of infection by animal pathogens if transplanted. Previous ESC lines were mixed with animal cells. Meanwhile in the US, surprisingly little has been accomplished with ESCs in the last year due to the chilling effect of the political controversy. And because of Bush's decision a year ago, any new 'clean' ESC lines could not be be used in federally funded research.
posted by homunculus (2 comments total)
All the many medical procedures that rely on animal serum or tissue need to be watched carefully for the dangers of transmission of xeno-diseases. Our immune system, in its defense against animal pathogens via direct blood to blood transmission (in vaccines etc), is much less evolved against the same pathogens when inhaled or eaten.

Our bodies firewall of mucous membrane and digestive organs has had a billion years or so to perfect it's craft. Medical science is like a junior hacker going through a program's back door because it is the most direct, easiest way into the system. They admirably do desire to fix things, but they may end up wreaking havoc through blind ignorance of these incredibly complex, ancient systems.

Stem cell research has great promise for the healing of the presently incurable. The Singapore scientists are at least attempting a more reasonable path, than we are stuck with through legislation in the US. We now have the technology and the hubris to do all this cutting edge stuff. Have we also developed the wisdom and necessary restraint to do it right?
posted by gametone at 2:05 AM on August 6, 2002

In other news, Dr Ariff Bongso emerged from his lab on Tuesday to announce that he has worked secretly over the last five years to re-produce the formula for chewing gum.
posted by timyang at 7:34 PM on August 6, 2002

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