Re: MEDICINE: parthenogenesis path to stem cells

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Nov 24 2001 - 18:53:07 MST

On Sun, 25 Nov 2001, Anders Sandberg wrote:

> Sounds great!
> Isn't there a risk of chromosome damage proportional to the amount of
> rough handling the cells undergo?

Unclear. There are multiple types of chromosomal damage.
Single base damage leading to mutations can be caused by UV,
free radicals as well as genotoxins (aflotoxin and some other
plant toxins come to mind). Double strand breaks can be
caused by radiation damage or simple probability functions
associated with the likelyhood of two single-strand breaks
in close proximity. [There are beginning to be detailed studies
in these areas, I'm not up-to-date on the current state of research.]

It isn't clear to me the degree to which "rough handling" can
contribute to single-strand or double-strand breaks (presumably
the single-base mutations are minimal -- *unless* the chemicals
used to induce parthenogenesis are in some way genotoxic).

Clearly there is enough energy in "nuclear" or "chromosomal"
manipulation to break the covalent bonds in DNA strands --
it just isn't clear to what extent those energies are actually
transmitted to cause breaks during the expriments.

> If so, this process is mainly going to
> benefit women since the amount of damage to sperm cells is likely
> higher.

Agreed. Women appear to have a significant advantage of
reduced damage using these methods.

> I think his (Leon Kass) chief argument here is that we see a
> commodization of life, and that leads to us undervaluing
> the value of real human lives.

Interestingly enough, this requires that one view the value of
human life in the pre-programmed following of "traditional"
human lives -- and *not* in the exploration of what human lives
might be capable of. Its an implicitly static view of what
human life is or can be. One would expect that Kass would
also be opposed to extreme sports of any kind.


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