Re: Human embryonic stem cells

Scott Badger (
Sun, 8 Nov 1998 17:57:17 -0600

John Clark wrote:

>Human embryonic stem cells have been isolated and I think this is very
>big news. The feat was independently achieved by two different teams
>using completely different methods, although both were financed by the
>Geron corporation, the same company that made a splash a few months ago
>when they immortalized cells by lengthening their telomeres. Human
>embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated but can develop into any of
>the 220 different kinds of cells that make up the human body. This is a
>huge step toward cloning spare organs with no danger of rejection from
>your immune system. And why not clone organs, we already know how to
>clone individuals. A reporter asked Dr. Thomas Okarma, Geron's vice
>president for research "Can the mortal body therefore be repaired with
>new tissues, new tissues that remain youthful indefinitely?" Dr. Okarma
>replied "Exactly."
>Apparently I'm not the only one who was impressed, these results were
>published in the journal Science on late Thursday afternoon (November 6
>issue) and on Friday the price of Geron stock tripled and the trading
>volume was more than 80 times it's normal level making it the most
>actively traded in the market.
> John K Clark

Yes, and another important aspect of these stem cells is that they are immortal. They're telomeres don't shorten with division. They wouldn't have to bother with isolating them again once they had a good sample. Question though, where would they find stem cells on Scott Badger's body, since the article refered to a very narrow window of time during which these cells may be isolated from embryonic tissue.

I also saw a Geron representative given a lengthy interview on the McNeil-Lehrer Report and I couldn't believe how many times they were throwing the word immortal around. I've been tuned into all this long enough that it doesn't phase me much, but I wonder what it's like for the mass of people who are just starting to understand the potential of bio-tech. I mentioned to Robert Ettinger that I suspected that as the prospect of immortality (pun) became increasingly prominent in our culture, we would see a significant increase in those signing up for cryonics, at least those who realized that they were JUST going to miss the bus if they didn't do something about it. He replied,

"Yes, it's a whole different story if you realize that you may not be just another generation in an eternal parade of generations, but instead the last dinosaur."

Another quote from Robert Ettinger is applicable here:

"The immortalist revolution is so profound, the wonder is not that it is taking a long time, but that it is moving at all and no one has been lynched."

Scott Badger