Month Archives: March 2011

State of the States: New Hampshire

by Ian Frith

March 3, 2011

Two bills (HB437 and HB443) repealing same-sex marriage (which was passed into law last year) and defining marriage as between one man and one woman have been heard in the House Judiciary Committee, and may be voted upon as soon as today. (Update: Both measures received a “vote to retain” meaning they will not be passed on to be considered before the full legislature this session.)

Recently a bill for which FRC sent an alert, HB 329 requiring parental notification before performing an abortion on a minor, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. It will now proceed to the full house floor. The passage of this bill out of committee was a great victory for parental rights and for life. Credit is due to Cornerstone, the NH Family Policy Council for their continual support of families through involvement in the state legislature.

Another bill that supports families, for which an alert was sent, is HB 587. This bill prohibits spouses from getting a divorce solely on the grounds of irreconcilable differences if they have minor children. The public hearing started this morning at 9:30am in the Legislative Office Building Room 206. (Update: The outcome for HB 587 is unknown, however it is likely that it may be amended to a study committee.)

Scheduled for an upcoming vote in committee is HB 228, a bill which would prohibit the use of public funds for abortion. In addition, this bill also prohibits the Department of Health from entering into any sort of contract with Planned Parenthood. The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee meets at 10:00am in the Legislative Office Building Room 205 and will likely vote on HB 228 March 9th.

Two more bills, both in the House Judiciary Committee, which we have been tracking, HB 513 and HB 569, are scheduled for votes sometime next week. House Bill 513 would legalize physician assisted suicide, and House Bill 569 would establish domestic unions, making them the legal equivalent to marriage. (Update: HB 513 received the vote “inexpedient to legislate” on March 3rd and will be brought before the full house with a strong recommendation to fail.)

Adult Stem Cells Successful For Breast Reconstruction

by David Prentice

March 3, 2011

Results of a long-term study released Wednesday show that adult stem cells from a patient’s own fat tissue are safe for breast reconstruction for former breast cancer patients. The results from this 12-month, 71-patient trial confirmed the findings of an earlier six-month trial. The trial, referred to as RESTORE-2, was run by the company Cytori Therapeutics Inc., which said that the data are being prepared for peer-review publication and should be publicly available later this year.

The Cytori method extracts adult stem cells from a patient’s fat tissue, and could help many women regain a higher quality of life. The intervention is relatively simple. Extraction of ethical adult stem cells takes only a few minutes and the entire procedure until the cells are injected into the breast takes only a few hours, with restoration of breast tissue complete within about six weeks.

Cloner: Nuclear Transfer Cloning of No Practical Relevance

by David Prentice

March 2, 2011

The latest issue of The Scientist has a profile of Rudolf Jaenisch of the Whitehead Institute (HT: THF). The piece mislabels as a “hit” claims of success at “therapeutic cloning”, even though the hit was in reality a miss (or was actually a hit in terms of what one friend calls “Herodian cloning”, involving reproductive cloning plus infanticide plus adult stem cell transplantation.) Jaenisch does have a lot of experience with nuclear transfer cloning as well as reprogramming of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and generation of animals with both techniques. He and his co-workers have previously noted the rampant problems with cloning.

In this latest interview, Jaenisch makes more strong statements on nuclear transfer cloning in general:

In my view, you cannot make normal clones. Dolly looked normal. But after six years they had to kill her because she was so sick. Mice are the same. Most die very early [in development]. A few make it to birth. And the ones that survive look pretty nice for a year. But many die by 15 months. So I would argue that the animals that survive are just less abnormal than ones that die early. With nuclear transfer you never get normal embryos.

Regarding the uselessness of so-called “therapeutic cloning” (somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning, then destroying the young embryo to harvest its embryonic stem cells):

Ten years ago, we talked about the potential of nuclear transfer for therapy. But it turns out the technique was of no practical relevance. You would never do it in humans for a number of reasons. First, its very inefficient. With mice, that doesnt matter because we can do hundreds of transfers to get a few mice. But human cloning is another order of magnitude more difficult than in mice. And people cant even get the eggs to practice [on]. My former student Kevin Eggan, along with his colleagues at Harvard, spent years putting in place a protocol to get volunteer egg donors. They spent a couple hundred thousand dollars just in advertising. And I think they got one or two donors. Kevins postdoc, Dieter Egli, who went to Columbia, told me that he got a couple [of] human nuclear transfers going, but they all arrested at the 6- or 8-cell stage. So theres something we dont understand going on in human [embryos]. It should work, but were not there yet.

Cloning proponents like Panos Zavos and Irving Weissman should take note.

Those interested in actual science-based treatments for patients should look at the successes of adult stem cells, in treating spinal cord injury, chronic heart failure, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, corneal blindness, and juvenile diabetes, to name a few examples.

Adult Stem Cells Heal Burns, Hearts

by David Prentice

March 1, 2011

Dr. Amit Patel at the University of Utah is using the patient’s own adult stem cells to help heal heart damage, and also to repair skin wounds and burns. Patel has treated numerous patients for heart damage using adult stem cells, including developing many of the techniques now used around the world. Now he and his colleagues are using adult stem cells to heal serious burns. The adult stem cell technique takes only about 15 minutes, spraying on a “biological jello” that is a concentrated solution of cells and platelets combined with calcium and thrombin. The procedure is similar to the “skin gun”, which also sprays on a solution of the patient’s adult stem cells.

This news video shows the application for one of the patients.

 

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

Dr. Patel discusses the use of adult stem cells for treatments in this video.

Adult stem cells are providing real science and real healing for real patients, right now.

O Say Can you Sing?

by Robert Morrison

March 1, 2011

Okay, Ill admit it: I cannot sing anybodys national anthem. When I sing in the shower, the water stops. To carry a tune, Id need a forklift.

So I think Im an impartial judge of anthems. And I dont take kindly to liberals knocking the Star Spangled Banner. Their latest excuse is the mess of a job done by Christina Aguilera at the Super Bowl. They call it the star mangled banner in Washingtons political insider sheet, The Hill.

First, the singers at these events arent singing the national anthem at all. Theyre singing their own made-up versions. The national anthem is a sprightly military air. That means theres one way to sing it. All the improvisations, all the fresh and new interpretations, are not our national anthem.

Now, Ray Charless America is a wonderful adaptation of the century-old patriotic song. Nobody is saying you cant have variations in old music. And, too, you can add new tunes all the time.

God Bless America was once new before it was the Republican national anthem. It was especially moving, however, when it was first aired. Then, war in Europe seemed inevitable and Kate Smiths rendition of the Irving Berlin song struck a powerful chord with Americans who thought God had indeed blessed Americawith 3,000 miles of anti-tank trench to keep Hitlers panzers away.

Similarly, Lee Greenwoods God Bless the U.S.A. hit at exactly the right moment in history. After a decade of oil shocks and the humiliation of seeing Americans held hostage in Iran, Americans yearned for affirmation. Lee Greenwoods hit song came at the moment when Country and Western music even took Manhattan. Its hard to imagine Greenwoods song taking off if Fritz Mondale had been elected president.

So, there are plenty of ways to interpret old chestnuts and, if youre not satisfied with that, write a new one. But leave the Star-Spangled Banner Alone.

We are coming up on the two-hundredth anniversary of the War of 1812. Maryland is already out with a commemorative license plate that shows the bombs bursting in air over Baltimores Fort McHenry. I know; its confusing. Its the War of 1812, but most of the exciting stuffthe burning of Washington, D.C., the shelling of Fort McHenrytakes place in 1814.

More confusing still, the war was concluded with the Treaty of Ghent, signed by British and American negotiators in that Belgian town on Christmas Eve, 1814. Yet the greatest battle was fought on January 8, 1815, when Gen. Andrew Jackson, crushed the invading British at New Orleans. If peace treaty-maker John Quincy Adams had only friended Old Hickory on Face Book when the war was over on paper, we might never have had our great victory, or Johnny Hortons classic country hit, The Battle of New Orleans:

We fired our guns and the British kept a’comin.

There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.

We fired once more and they began to runnin’ on

Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, Ill concede it, if Christina Aguilera wants to do her own interpretation of Johnnys song, Id say: Honey, have at it. She can probably only improve it.

Deep down, I suspect, liberals dont like the national anthem because theres all that talk of the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air. They dont like to be reminded that sometimes you have to fight for freedom.

In fact, if the Toronto Blue Jays play the Baltimore Orioles at Cambden Yards, youll hear a battle of the bands. O Canada contains the lines: We stand on guard for thee.

Those rockets and bombs in our anthem were British and hostile. Those Canadians were loyal to Britain and were standing on guardagainst us Yankees.

The final reason liberals dont like the Star-Spangled Banner, I think, is that last stanza. Check out these lines:

Oh! thus be it ever when free men shall stand

Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation,

Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto, “In God is our trust.”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

It took an Act of Congress to make the Star-Spangled Banner our national anthem back in 1921. That was a Republican Congress. It seems the new House majority has shown up just in the nick of time.

Unethical Patent for Human Embryo Manipulation

by David Prentice

March 1, 2011

The embryonic stem cell and cloning company, Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), has been granted a patent for what it calls its “single-blastomere technique” for generating human embryonic stem cell lines. ACT claims that the technique produces embryonic stem cell lines without embryo destruction, but the company’s own published data belie the statement.

ACT first published their claims in Nature in 2006, and their chief scientist Robert Lanza stated at the time What we have done, for the first time, is to actually create human embryonic stem cells without destroying the embryo itself. But buried in the paper was the fact that all of the embryos used in the experiments had actually been destroyed. The misleading statements led to publication of a corrected paper and an addendum to clarify the data.

Subsequently, Lanza published more data in 2008 in Cell Stem Cell, and Lanza said If we base this on objective scientific criteria, theres no evidence that removing a single blastomere harms the embryo. But even in this paper, Lanzas own data show that not all embryos survived unharmed. Further data on potential harm and destruction to embryos undergoing blastomere removal can be found here and here.

The data show that the “blastomere biopsy” technique does indeed pose a risk of harm or death for embryos undergoing the procedure, and is neither safe nor ethical.

If you’re sincerely interested in some real stem cell science, that is both ethical and successfully treating thousands of patients right now, see these three patient videos or see this story and watch these videos.

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