Sunday, January 07, 2007

Morality-Free Stem Cells

Anthony Atala and coworkers at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine reported in Nature Biotechnology that they have been able to harvest stem cells from amniotic fluid. The cells, named amniotic fluid-derived stem (AFS) cells, exhibit characteristics between embryonic and adult stem cells. These AFS cells, unlike embryonic stem cells, are readily available; the researchers collected them from backup amniotic fluid samples from amniocentesis, which does not usually harm the fetus or the mother. So far AFS cells have successfully been used to create muscle, bone, fat, blood vessel, nerve and liver cells.

Can anyone object to using these cells on moral grounds? Let's hope not.

Source: EurekAlert, NewScientist

Edit: CNN just posted this story.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Force in Mitochondria

MidisThe Scientist is running an article describing how George Lucas' midichlorians have made the move from Force-wielding microorganisms in the Star Wars galaxy, to the mitochondria of tick ova. While the naming is caused Mental Floss to pick up the story, the existence of a bacterial species living inside mitochondria, which is practically a baterium itself, is unprecendented it would seem. It's not clear if these bacteria destroy mitochondria in order to live in their shells, but Nate Lo, found midichlorians living in every female tick he looked at, regardless of its origin. Oh yea, and George Lucas said it was okay to name the species midichlorians. I wonder what Carolus would think.