Like a bad penny, disgraced South Korean cloning researcher Hwang Woo-suk is always popping up in the headlines somewhere around the world. Back in 2004, Dr. Hwang stunned the world with the announcement that he had been the first to clone human embryos. Then he shocked the world with the news that his research was fabricated and he exploited young female researchers in his lab (and many other women) to get the eggs needed for his failed attempts at human cloning. He was then convicted of fraud.
Last week the House of the Oklahoma State legislature overwhelmingly passed the Protection of Human Life Act of 2013. This act prohibits the destruction of human embryos for research and prohibits research on cells that were obtained from the destruction of a human embryo.
On February 25th and 26th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be having a meeting to discuss allowing the technique that creates embryos with three genetic parents to proceed to clinical trials. The "three-parent" embryo technique is also called mitochondrial replacement, maternal spindle transfer, or oocyte modification.
After the ground-breaking news last week that Japanese scientists were able reprogram adult cells to embryonic-like cells in mice by simply bathing them in weak acid, the next step was to try this with human cells. The technique is called "stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency", or STAP.
Scientists in Japan have developed a way to cheaply and easily take adult cells from mice and reprogram them back to a pluripotent or embryonic-like state. They demonstrated that these STAP cells were capable of becoming all the cells in a full grown mouse.
This e-mail from a reader broke my heart. It is a cry for help from a young IVF-conceived woman who mourns the loss of her siblings that didn't make it. It is also a look at the darker-side of IVF that no one wants to talk about: the massive loss of life inherent in the IVF process.
Most of society is under the impression that human augmentation is something that our grandchildren will have to deal with. Stuff for T.V. and big screens. I have been screaming from the rooftops that this is something we need to discuss now because it is happening now.
King's College in London is proud that they have provided 16 new embryonic stem cell lines to the United States' National Institutes of Health (NIH) registry of stem cell lines eligible for federal funding. On the King's College website they explain that they have created these stem cell lines with a variety of genetic disease for US researchers to work on: