Save rats? Kill people? GE looking for ways to further research

From CNSNews.com comes this story about GE Healthcare, a subsidary of General Electric, and its efforts to use embryonic stem cell research to test drug toxicity and spare poor lab rats:

On June 30, GE Healthcare and Geron Corporation announced a multi-year alliance where Geron will provide GE scientists with an undisclosed amount of human embryonic stem cells.
 
The human cells will be used “to develop and commercialize cellular assay products derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) for use in drug discovery, development and toxicity screening,” according to a news release.
 
GE Healthcare, which is based in Britain, hopes that human embryonic testing will spare lab rats from having potentially toxic drugs in or on the animals.
 
“This could replace, to a large extent, animal trials,” Konstantin Fiedler, general manager of cell technologies at GE Healthcare, told Reuters.
 
“Once you have human cells and you can get them in a standardized way, like you get right now, your lab rats in a standardized way, you can actually do those experiments on those cells,” he added.

But this is all nonsense, says Dr. David Prentice, senior fellow for life science at the Family Research Council:

[Prentice said] that embryos must be killed before stem cells can be derived from them for research purposes.
 
“Human embryonic stem cell research is ethically irresponsible and scientifically unworthy, as well as useless for patients,” Prentice said.
 
Prentice explained that General Electric’s optimism in saving lab animals from testing by using hESCs is also largely unfounded.
 
“There is always going to be a problem on trying to rely just on cultured cells to do drug testing,” Prentice explained.

The problem, he said, is that many drugs are metabolized in the liver and other parts of the body and those metabolized substances then become the active ingredients of the drugs.
 
“Treating just cells in culture will give you some idea of toxicity or perhaps effectiveness on a certain cell type, but will not actually work for the whole organ, or the entire system, or the organism,” Prentice said. “So this is not going to replace all animal testing.

Prentice also pointed out that most of the research involving embryonic stem cells thus far has produced no valid therapies, while successful therapies for several diseases and conditions are already in place using adult stem cells, he said.

But, of course, the problem with adult stem cells, which have no ethical baggage associated with them, is that the president who said we must not put ideology over science has pulled government funding for that research.

That’s not the way it is: How the media misleads on stem cell research

Josh Brahm, who works with Right to Life of Central California, has written a devastating analysis of 9 Things The Media Messed Up About the Obama Stem Cell Story. While this is an issue we’ve visited here, it is educational to see names named and sources cited to clearly demonstrate what we’re talking about. As I’ve said before, there is either a laziness or a willful intention to deceive by media members that is going on with the issue of stem cell research. While some of the media offenders in Josh’s analysis are in his immediate area in California, there are still plenty of national news media organizations who are guilty of misreporting the issue.

I would highly recommend not only reading Josh’s excellent work yourself but helping those around you understand it better as well. The media, for the most part, is not helping in this matter and, in fact, is making it worse by doing shoddy work.

Spider-Man? How about every man?

\According to new research, humans can see into the future ever so briefly, which explains why we are tricked by optical illusions.

Researcher Mark Changizi of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York says it starts with a neural lag that most everyone experiences while awake. When light hits your retina, about one-tenth of a second goes by before the brain translates the signal into a visual perception of the world.

Scientists already knew about the lag, yet they have debated over exactly how we compensate, with one school of thought proposing our motor system somehow modifies our movements to offset the delay.

Changizi now says it’s our visual system that has evolved to compensate for neural delays, generating images of what will occur one-tenth of a second into the future. That foresight keeps our view of the world in the present. It gives you enough heads up to catch a fly ball (instead of getting socked in the face) and maneuver smoothly through a crowd. His research on this topic is detailed in the May/June issue of the journal Cognitive Science.

The article goes on to explain that illusions occur because our brains try to perceive the future but reality doesn’t match our perceptions. The question that comes to my mind: Is this something that has evolved or is it one more way we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” ?

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HT: Centurion