Biology education, should study single cells first
xyz at netcom.ca
xyz at netcom.ca
Tue Nov 17 19:47:42 EST 1998
Well I guess now they've done it! ....
Human Cells ``Cloned'' Using Cow Eggs
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists said Thursday they had used cloning
technology to fuse human and cow cells in an attempt to grow organs for
transplant in a
The team at tiny biotech company Advanced Cell Technology said the cells
had grown as an embryo for a few days, then reverted to a primordial state
known as stem
cells, which are capable of growing into any kind of cell in the body.
Although they used the same method they used to clone cows, the scientists
at the privately held company, based in Worcester, Massachusetts, say they
intention of trying to create a human clone.
Instead, they want to try to grow organs and tissues in the lab for use in
``We will not use this technology to clone human beings,'' Michael West,
president and chief executive officer of Advanced Cell Technology, vowed in
The company has not submitted its research for the standard scientific
``peer review'' process, when other experts check to make sure it is
First, they want to assess the public response, said James Robl, a
professor of animal science at the University of Massachusetts who helped
found the company, which
has licensed and patented the technology.
Otherwise, the company may end up sinking a lot of money into a project
that the public will not tolerate.
Reaction was fast and pronounced. ``This is the most extraordinary single
development in the history of biotechnology because it now suggests that we
can create new
human-animal species,'' Jeremy Rifkin, a writer on biotechnology issues,
said in a telephone interview.
``I don't think we should go ahead with research, around the world, until
we take some time to think about it.'' Calling the idea ``dangerous and
chilling,'' Rifkin said he
would lobby Congress to pass a law against such experiments.
But Robl thinks the potential benefits outweigh any initial distaste people
might have for the idea of mixing human and animal cells.
``Embryonic stem cells hold the promise of providing an unlimited supply of
cells that may be grown in the laboratory into virtually any type of tissue
for transplant use,''
He foresees taking a few cells from a patient and growing them perhaps into
heart cells, for use in repairing a damaged heart, or brain cells for
injection into the
damaged brains of Parkinson's patients, or even into growing a whole organ
such as a liver.
Because the genetic material comes from the donor, there would be no
problem of rejection.
Robl's team took a human cell -- in this case a skin fibroblast cell -- and
fused it using an electrical current to a cow's egg that had its nucleus
The human nucleus, which contains all the genes that carry the ``road map''
for building a functioning body, crossed into the hollowed-out cow egg.
This process started
the egg growing and dividing almost as if it had been fertilized by a
Although it started out looking like an embryo, it later became a mass of
Earlier this month a team at the University of Wisconsin at Madison said
they grew human stem cells from human embryos donated by infertile couples
On their own the cells differentiated into cartilage, bone, muscle and
other kinds of cells and are still growing in laboratory dishes.
Their study, funded by Geron Corp (Nasdaq:GERN - news), is farther down the
road than Robl's. But their cells would be foreign to the patient receiving
they contain the human genetic material from someone else. There would be
the problem of rejection just as there is now with donated organs.
Not so with cells cloned from the patient.
Robl says his human-cow hybrid cells -- made from cells donated by Jose
Cibelli, one of the scientists on the team -- died after a couple of weeks.
``If the cells get past this initial hump, then they theoretically would be
like normal human embryonic stem cells and can be used just as other human
cells can be used,'' Robl said. He said eventually the human genes would
take over and only a very small amount of cow DNA would remain.
He thinks this approach might be more ethically acceptable than using human
embryos. Currently U.S. federal funds cannot be used to pay for such
Clone Technology Could Grow Liver In A Dish -Study (November 12)
Your recent article on the use of non-human embryos for cloning points
out a major misunderstanding in the true nature of being a biological
The assumption is that nucleus DNA is the only DNA in a human cell.
There are other components that are as important and are only inherited
from the mother's embryo, namely mitochondria DNA which is outside the
nucleus that carries out an important part in the chemical-energy
processes of every cell within us.
Also there has been recent discoveries that indicated that a human cell
has an unusual coating that seems to
be critical to neurons and may be the cause of our distinct higher
The Jewish religion believes that some bloodlines only pass through the
Mitochondria DNA and other non-nucleus components are only inherited
from the mother embryo.
Therefore, a cloned human utilizing a non-human embryo will never be
If we utilize a cow's embryo to mass-produce humans,
again re-create the horrors of our past enslavement of our fellow man.
By pursuing this course of capitalistic manipulation of our very being,
we are dis-inheriting our right to live.
We must stand together and boycott all firms and governments condoning
Robert Maas wrote:
> (This idea originated & written 1998.Oct.28)
> Human cells are sometimes very complicated, but they're so interrelated
> with other cells and hormones etc. that it's difficult for a student to
> really understand any individual cell. Students need to practice
> understanding on single-celled organisms. But bacteria are too simple
> to be good examples, except biochemically. Best are protoctists, which
> are mostly full-fledged eukaryotes, and many of which have evolved
> elaborately complicated cellular structures. If a biology student could
> completely understand just one kind of zoomastigote or actinopod, and
> understand the ecology of labyrinthulids building slime cities, the
> student might be ready to begin seriously studying cells in animals.
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