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It’s Now Ok for Republicans to Favor Stem Cell Research

September 30, 2002

Filed under: Stem Cell Research

Nancy Reagan has quietly come out in favor of federal financing for embryonic stem cell research. "A lot of time is being wasted," she told a friend. "A lot of people who could be helped are not being helped." Former President Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s has worsened to the point where he no longer recognizes her, and embryonic stem cells may potentially hold the key to a cure.
Says Republican Senator Arlen Specter, "She’s a former first lady, she holds a special position because of her own persuasive personality, and her husband, President Reagan, has Alzheimer’s… she’s a triple threat."

California defies Bush on stem cells

September 24, 2002

Filed under: Stem Cell Research

Often at odds with the rest of the country, California has taken a pro-stem cell research stand, adopting a law permitting embryos to be both donated and destroyed for research with written consent. California Governor Gray Davis was joined at the new law’s announcement by Christopher Reeve, who recently openly blasted Bush for blocking stem cell research.

Happy Birthday, Superman

Filed under: People

Sign the birthday card for Christopher Reeve and an anonymous donor will contribute $1 to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Fund.

Get your Genetic Code Sequenced

Filed under: Genetics

Despite the fact that scientists still don’t fully understand the human genome, orders are already being taken (at $712,000 a pop) to sequence the genes of individuals. The process is expected to take about a week, with the eventual goal of sequencing an individual’s genetic makeup in 24 hours for $1,000. I, for one, am looking forward to getting my DNA on a CD. Think of the sci-fi short story possibilities…

September 18, 2002

Filed under: Miscellaneous

coverI was Googling in search of images of nucleotides when I stumbled across several images from the movie Gattaca, and with them, a promotional website for the movie: It’s all purely fictional, but if you click on the "Designer Babies" link, you’ll be presented with a thumbprint DNA analysis, and the option to "upgrade" your embryo to remove the probabilities of a list of diseases. Charcot-Marie-Tooth was on my list at a 10% probability (that’s all?!) and could be upgraded for a mere $4,123.
All told, the bill for my designer baby came to $115,938, but the biggest laugh I got from the Gattaca publicity stunt was the line at bottom of the invoice: "Your insurance will cover the cost of this procedure". Ha!

Controlling Robots with the Mind

September 17, 2002

Filed under: Neuroprosthetics

From Neuroprosthesis News comes a link to a relevant Scientific American article: Controlling Robots with the Mind.

After several hours the rat realized it no longer needed to press the bar. If it just looked at the bar and imagined its forelimb pressing it, its neurons could still express the firing pattern that our brain-machine interface would interpret as motor commands to move the lever. Over time, four of six rats succeeded in this task. They learned that they had to “think through” the motion of pressing the bar. This is not as mystical at it might sound; right now you can imagine reaching out to grasp an object near you–without doing so. In similar fashion, a person with an injured or severed limb might learn to control a robot arm joined to a shoulder.

Reeve Speaks Out

Filed under: Stem Cell Research

Christopher Reeve rips Bush and the Catholic Church for opposing research that could someday lead to cures, not only for paralysis, but for many of the diseases that continue to plague the human race.
Note to Bush: don’t mess with Superman.

Genetics for Dummies

September 16, 2002

Filed under: Genetics

Nature Publishing Group has helpfully supplied a User’s Guide for the human genome. (Free but tedious registration required… just tell them you’re Donald Duck if the questions seem too probing.) So now you know where to look if you’re experimenting at home with your chemistry set, and you need to know just how to go about finding genes of interest, or how to find a corresponding genetic sequence in mice.

Lorenzo’s oil finally proven to work

September 15, 2002

Filed under: Uncategorized

Lorenzo's OilThe medical establishment was skeptical, but Lorenzo’s oil has finally been proven to work. (For background on this story, I recommend the movie. The Myelin Project, started by the Odones, is still hard at work finding a way to replace lost myelin.

Another gene therapy success

September 14, 2002

Filed under: Uncategorized

Gene therapy has reached another milestone; it has been successfully used to treat a disorder affecting multiple organ systems throughout the body. So far it’s only been done on dogs, and young ones at that–plus there was only one gene that needed changing, whereas DS will require more than one to be changed–but this news "provides the strongest evidence yet that gene therapy could work against many different diseases"

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