MEDICINE: When it rains it pours

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Dec 01 2001 - 07:26:04 MST

Reuters/ABC News is reporting 2 groups have mananaged to turn
*human* embryonic stem cells into various specific brain cells.

The articles are:

Commentary (suscription to Nature Biotechnology probably required):

And people seem to be getting to a better understanding of the
tricks required for cloning viable animals:

"Production of calves from G1 fibroblasts"

Sticking my neck out -- therapeutic applications for diseases
like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's (in countries where its legal)
within 5 years.

As I pointed out to Eliezer offlist, once you have applications
that allow the administration of brain cells into the brain and
once we understand the qualities of brain cells that serve to
increase intelligence (presumably intelligence genotyping is
ongoing as I type) then adding genes (or a chromosome) to
an embryonic stem cell for increased intelligence, producing
millions or billions of them and augmenting your brain isn't
going to be far behind. It is likely to raise some thorny
ethical issues because its likely to be a pretty expensive
therapy initially -- one which would serve to increase the
divide between rich and poor. The other aspect that will
be interesting is that this will be at the edge of what
regulatory agencies will be willing to approve and what
most humans would be willing to do to themselves due
to potentially unknown risks.


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