Month Archives: December 2007

Witherspooner Well Prepared

by Robert Morrison

December 10, 2007

We’re happy to congratulate Witherspoon alumnus David Crater (a Witherspoon Fellow in the Summer of 2001)on his success in Germany. We will always be gratified by the successes of the students whom we have had the privilege of knowing here at FRC.

LEEDS SCHOOL STUDENTS WIN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS COMPETITION IN GERMANY WITH INNOVATIVE SOLAR ENERGY PLAN

A team of University of Colorado at Boulder MBA students beat 80 other teams to win an international competition that required participants to develop a business plan to distribute solar energy technology in Africa.

The winning team included CU-Boulder Leeds School of Business graduate students (left to right in photo) Tetyana Hinkson (MBA ‘08), David Crater (MBA ‘08), and Kristin Apple (MBA ‘08). The trio competed in the Business Masters 2007 International Case Studies Competition finals in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Nov. 21 through Nov. 23.

The team beat competitors from other leading business schools around the world with a plan that would provide an affordable, environmentally friendly solar energy system in East Africa to irrigate crops, increase food production and generate more income for the region’s farmers and entrepreneurs.

Read the whole article here.

Here’s a summary of adult cell reprogamming studies

by David Christensen

December 7, 2007

A couple studies have been published that have ended the debate over human embyronic stem cell research, because scientists showed how to get embryonic-like stem cells without harming or destroying embryos or cloning human embryos for research. For a summary, continue reading below.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS cells)

Embryonic Stem Cells without Embryos or Eggs

WHAT SCIENTISTS HAVE DONE

Dr. James Thomson of U WI (first to grow human ESC) and Prof Shinya Yamanaka from Japan each have a high profile paper released Nov 20 (in Science & Cell). Both show that embryonic-type stem cells can be produced directly from ordinary human cells, such as a skin cell, without first creating an embryo.

Prof. Yamanaka published a second paper Nov 30 in Nature Biotechnology in which he achieved the same result with human and mouse cells by adding only 3 genes, omitting one gene (myc, an oncogene) that had cancer-causing potential.

Both groups used viruses to add the genes, another potential concern for cancer, but they are already working on refining the technique to eliminate use of viruses.

The “direct reprogramming” technique, first developed by Yamanaka in mice in 2006, involves adding 3-4 genetic factors to an ordinary cell, such as a skin cell. These “reprogram” or “dedifferentiate” the cell directly into an embryonic-type stem cell (called “iPS cells”—induced Pluripotent Stem cells.)

They DO NOT start with adult stem cells, and they DO NOT produce adult stem cells. These are EMBRYONIC-type stem cells.

ETHICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The technique DOES appear to hold the ethical line: no embryos created or destroyed, no cloning, no eggs needed.

However, it still produces embryonic-type stem cells. So, these will still have all the practical scientific problems that “original” embryonic stem cells have— tumor formation, problems with getting desired functional cells, and as yet no proof that they will make a transplant match.

These cells cannot form an embryo by themselves. There has been some discussion about the reports that mice were produced from the mouse iPS cells. This is not forming an embryo directly from the cells, but by two techniques that are used to test the pluripotent ability of any ESC. The cell is either injected directly into an existing blastocyst-stage mouse embryo, or a tetraploid embryo is formed by combining the cell with other cells. The mouse embryo is then placed into the womb of a surrogate mouse mother, gestated, and the born mice are examined to see if the ESC or iPSC contributed to all tissues.

REACTION

Coupled with the announcement by Ian Wilmut (the “father of Dolly”) that he is abandoning cloning as a method, in favor of Yamanaka’s method to get embryonic stem cells directly, these are significant announcements.

Wilmut, Thomson, and Yamanaka should be CONGRATULATED on turning from questionable science that has produced no useable results, to focus on more promising scientific methods, easier, cheaper, and available for funding now, that also meet the ethical bar (though realistically, Wilmut & Thomson still have no problem with embryo destruction—they are doing this for the scientific advantage.)

These events indicate there is no need to destroy embryos, nor cloned embryos for research.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION

We should push to ban all human cloning (S. 1036, Brownback-Landrieu; H.R. 2564, Weldon-Stupak), and we should not force taxpayers to fund research that requires the destruction of human embryos. Instead, we should shift resources to fund ethical research. Scientists that want embryonic stem cells can have them without embryo creation or destruction.

We need Congress to pass the Patients First Act (H.R. 2807, Forbes-Lipinski), because ADULT STEM CELLS are still the only stem cells actually benefitting thousands of patients right now and showing any real promise to do so in the near future.

ADDITIONAL TALKING POINTS on iPS cells.

Do we still need embryos and cloning? Answering Common Claims about iPSCs

NEWS STORIES

Researchers Turn Skin Cells Into Stem Cells

By Gretchen Vogel ScienceNOW Daily News 20 November 2007

Researchers Create Stem Cells Without Destroying Embryos

By GAUTAM NAIK WSJ November 20, 2007 9:16 a.m.

Scientists Bypass Need for Embryo to Get Stem Cells

By GINA KOLATA NYTimes November 21, 2007

REFINED TECHNIQUE

Woman’s skin turned to embryo cells

Roger Highfield reports that the alternative to cloning continues to show promise; The Telegraph (London) 7:01pm GMT 30/11/2007

A simpler recipe for human stem cells

Adult skin cells turned to pluripotent stem cells without a cancer-causing agent

David Cyranoski, Naturenews Published online 30 November 2007

Video of Bill Bennett’s lecture at FRC

by Jared Bridges

December 7, 2007

Yesterday, FRC was treated to a Witherspoon Fellowship Lecture by William J. Bennett. If you weren’t able to come in person, or missed the webcast, you can now view the video of the lecture below:

Note: The Witherspoon Fellowship is FRC’s D.C.—based academic internship. If you’re a college student or recent college graduate, and are interested in the Witherspoon Fellowship, you can find more information here.

Keeping Marriage Public

by Jared Bridges

December 6, 2007

Responding to last week’s NY Times op/ed by Stephanie Coontz, who suggested that marriages shouldn’t recognized by the state, FRC’s Michael Fragoso argues that marriage should be kept public:

Coontz misstates the historical record to give the impression that marriage has typically not been a province of law and only became such in an effort to preserve the narrow interests of certain powerful sects of society: wealthy parents in requiring parental consent, Catholic authoritarians in proscribing divorce, and Southern racists in preventing miscegenation. This could not be further from the truth. As a rule, the more marriage was enshrined in law, the more freedom under the law was given to men and women who sought marriage. This was often the case in the ancient world, and emphatically the case in the medieval world.

Read it all at First Things.

Bill Bennett lecture to be webcast live at 12:00 noon today

by Jared Bridges

December 6, 2007

Join FRC in welcoming William J. Bennett. Dr. Bennett will speak on what our students know, do not know, but should know about our country’s history. Bill Bennett is a leading cultural figure in this country. He served in the Reagan administration as Secretary of Education and under the first President Bush as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Bill Bennett is the author of The Book of Virtues which sold over 2.4 million copies and has been translated into twelve languages. Bennett’s two-volume history of the United States, America: The Last Best Hope, is a New York Times Bestseller.

Join us today, December 6, at 12:00 noon EST for the lecture. The event will also be available via live webcast.

Follow this link at 12:00 noon EST to view the live webcast.

Christians can now adopt in India

by Jared Bridges

December 5, 2007

I was unaware that until recently, only Hindus were allowed to adopt children in India. Thankfully, the second most populous country in the world — and one with a huge sex-selection abortion problem — has now opened the door for adoption to non-Hindus:

NEW DELHI, November 30 (Compass Direct News) Ending a long era of absence of adoption rights for non-Hindus, the government has cleared the way for all religious communities in all Indian states to adopt legally.

The government of the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance on October 26 gave notice of new rules under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act or JJA of 2006, making room for all communities to adopt, reported national daily The Times of India on November 17.

This has ended a long wait by the Christian community, which for many years has been urging the government to grant them the right to adopt, a representative of the Christian Legal Association (CLA) told Compass.

Christians from almost all denominations are happy with the governments move.

Hopefully, the increased availability of adoptive parents will be good news for survival chances of Indian girls.

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