embryonic cells


Scientists have created an artificial embryo

  • Scientists at the University of Cambridge may have just found a way to create life — without sperm or an egg.
  • The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Science, created an artificial mouse embryo using only stem cells.
  • While scientists have previously created embryos without sperm — as with the Dolly the Sheep clone — creating life without an egg has previously been impossible, Gizmodo reported.
  • The mouse embryo was created using embryonic stem cells and trophoblast stem cells, which are the cells that produce placenta.
  • Both were grown separately before being combined using a three-dimensional scaffold, and the mixture began to resemble a mouse embryo after four days. Read more (3/8/17 2:45 PM)

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Supporting the damaged brain

A new study shows that embryonic nerve cells can functionally integrate into local neural networks when transplanted into damaged areas of the visual cortex of adult mice.

(Image caption: Neuronal transplants (blue) connect with host neurons (yellow) in the adult mouse brain in a highly specific manner, rebuilding neural networks lost upon injury. Credit: Sofia Grade, LMU/Helmholtz Zentrum München)

When it comes to recovering from insult, the adult human brain has very little ability to compensate for nerve-cell loss. Biomedical researchers and clinicians are therefore exploring the possibility of using transplanted nerve cells to replace neurons that have been irreparably damaged as a result of trauma or disease. Previous studies have suggested there is potential to remedy at least some of the clinical symptoms resulting from acquired brain disease through the transplantation of fetal nerve cells into damaged neuronal networks. However, it is not clear whether transplanted intact neurons can be sufficiently integrated to result in restored function of the lesioned network. Now researchers based at LMU Munich, the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology in Martinsried and the Helmholtz Zentrum München have demonstrated that, in mice, transplanted embryonic nerve cells can indeed be incorporated into an existing network in such a way that they correctly carry out the tasks performed by the damaged cells originally found in that position. Such work is of importance in the potential treatment of all acquired brain disease including neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer‘s or Parkinson’s disease, as well as strokes and trauma, given each disease state leads to the large-scale, irreversible loss of nerve cells and the acquisition of a what is usually a lifelong neurological deficit for the affected person.

In the study published in Nature, researchers of the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, and the Helmholtz Zentrum München have specifically asked whether transplanted embryonic nerve cells can functionally integrate into the visual cortex of adult mice. “This region of the brain is ideal for such experiments,” says Magdalena Götz, joint leader of the study together with Mark Hübener. Hübener is a specialist in the structure and function of the mouse visual cortex in Professor Tobias Bonhoeffer’s Department (Synapses – Circuits – Plasticity) at the MPI for Neurobiology. As Hübener explains, “we know so much about the functions of the nerve cells in this region and the connections between them that we can readily assess whether the implanted nerve cells actually perform the tasks normally carried out by the network.” In their experiments, the team transplanted embryonic nerve cells from the cerebral cortex into lesioned areas of the visual cortex of adult mice. Over the course of the following weeks and months, they monitored the behavior of the implanted, immature neurons by means of two-photon microscopy to ascertain whether they differentiated into so-called pyramidal cells, a cell type normally found in the area of interest. “The very fact that the cells survived and continued to develop was very encouraging,” Hübener remarks. “But things got really exciting when we took a closer look at the electrical activity of the transplanted cells.” In their joint study, PhD student Susanne Falkner and Postdoc Sofia Grade were able to show that the new cells formed the synaptic connections that neurons in their position in the network would normally make, and that they responded to visual stimuli.

The team then went on to characterize, for the first time, the broader pattern of connections made by the transplanted neurons. Astonishingly, they found that pyramidal cells derived from the transplanted immature neurons formed functional connections with the appropriate nerve cells all over the brain. In other words, they received precisely the same inputs as their predecessors in the network. In addition, they were able to process that information and pass it on to the downstream neurons which had also differentiated in the correct manner. “These findings demonstrate that the implanted nerve cells have integrated with high precision into a neuronal network into which, under normal conditions, new nerve cells would never have been incorporated,” explains Götz, whose work at the Helmholtz Zentrum and at LMU focuses on finding ways to replace lost neurons in the central nervous system. The new study reveals that immature neurons are capable of correctly responding to differentiation signals in the adult mammalian brain and can close functional gaps in an existing neural network.

HEAR ME OUT: Abby’s Not Dying, She’s Pregnant


Consider this.


@brittanias and I have been hashing this out and here are some thoughts.  All the symptoms we have seen Abby show so far - sleeplessness, tremors, anxiety, hallucination - could actually be symptoms of something completely different.  Such as, for example, pregnancy. When Abby’s on the radio with Kane, what we see of her does not actually appear to present as a seizure; it presents much more like an anxiety attack.  She’s restless, pacing, her jaw is clenching, her hands are shaking, and then when she hears Marcus she calms down.  What we have NOT seen yet: weakness, collapsing, fainting, sweating, bleeding from the nose or mouth, foaming, rage/mania, or a scan of Abby’s brain.

THEORY: The reminder about Abby also getting fried with the EMP, just like Raven was, and the link of Abby’s symptoms with Raven’s symptoms are a narrative misdirect (perhaps its purpose is to give a reason why Abby’s contraception chip was fried and she didn’t know it); otherwise all the attention paid to the idea that this brain thing could present very differently in different people wouldn’t actually matter, unless it was so they could show us symptoms of something that was not a brain tumor and convince us to believe it was a brain tumor.  So we see Raven hallucinate and then have a seizure, we have Abby explain why, we have Jackson say “but the same thing happened to you, I should check you,” and then we have Abby being stubborn and insisting she’s fine and refusing to let him check her.  So it’s possible that the reason we see Abby’s first symptom - the hallucination (of her child, btw) in the same episode as Raven’s is to make sure we, the audience, are going “oh shit” and immediately assuming they are the exact same kind of hallucination.  Even though hallucinations are a very common symptom of extreme sleeplessness and sleeplessness is a common symptom of a whole huge range of things.

[Edited to add, per Brittany’s suggestion just now: we don’t even know that it was a hallucination. She was alone in the lab; she straight-up could have been dreaming.  (In that fancy bed.)  Just a regular ol’ extremely vivid dream - another common pregnancy symptom.]

Another, slightly more extra, possible indicator that pregnancy is a possibility: the editing of the sex scene.  We didn’t see leadup/cut to black/afterglow like the show usually does; we saw Kane finish.  It’s possible the writers and directors are just plain old Kabby trash like we are, but it’s also possible it’s plot-relevant in some way that we have concrete proof that Kane came inside her.

So this is my prediction.  I don’t think either of them are going to die.  I think for Raven, the narrative purpose of the “oh no you have a brain thing” is not the possibility of death, it’s the seizures.  It’s to put Raven in a situation where we know there is a danger she could completely lose control of her physical body, with all of humanity on the line.  They made a big point of Raven having to switch the rocket to manual, which now means only Raven can fly it.  They made a big point of how they needed all those barrels of hydrazine for the rocket and now they’re down one; what if they can coast on only the remaining fuel as long as the rocket is only carrying the weight of one passenger and they strip out all the unnecessary internal workings to make it lighter?  Then Raven is in space, alone, with all the Nightblood, with brain that could go into seizure at any moment when she’s over-stressed.  We also have Luna’s ability to soothe Raven with her words, and we have Murphy being in the room for every one of Raven’s failed flight simulator drills (playing with a toy car whose controls are very similar to the rocket). I don’t think it’s outside the bounds of possibility that they’re setting us up for Raven to have a seizure as the rocket is landing and even though it’s in manual, Murphy has to figure out how to land it himself while Raven’s incapacitated and Luna is trying over the headset to soothe her out of her seizure.

As far as Abby, I think the narrative purpose of “oh no you also have the brain thing” could very plausibly be to set us up in the only conceivable situation where Abby would have to consent to let Jackson give her a full medical scan. If there wasn’t a chance she was seriously sick, she’d never allow it.  There’d be no point.  But if she got pregnant in Polis, then she’s less than 2 months along, which means she might not be showing and most of her symptoms might easily look like something else, especially if she already thought there was a chance she did have something else.  So my guess is that she’s going to end up pushing herself and pushing herself until she has some kind of a meltdown or collapses from exhaustion or something happens where she finally has to face the thing she’s been trying not to have to face, her fear that she might also have what Raven has.  But she’d never say “sure go ahead give me a full physical” unless she had a very good reason and Jackson had reached a point of no longer being willing to be talked out of it.  Exhaustion, anxiety/tremors, and lack of sleep could all very easily be a combination of stress, overwork and pregnancy; hallucinations or lucid dreams sometimes are as well.  Especially given that the content of the dream was her child, in danger.

In terms of the narrative purpose to be served by Abby possibly being pregnant, there are a couple possibilities.  One important thing to remember, which I had forgotten until an anon just reminded me of it, is that all the Sky People are universal blood donors, while the Grounders are not.  It’s possible that the “disappointing setback” the episode description for 408 mentions with regard to the experiment on the Grounder redshirt is because maybe a Grounder can’t take another Grounder’s blood if they aren’t type-compatible.  So that means they can’t go to space to manufacture Nightblood synthetically, and they can’t use Luna’s bone marrow to save all the Grounders; they could save all the Sky People, and they could save Grounders compatible with Luna’s blood type, but that’s all.  But if they had, oh, let’s say, Nightblood embryonic stem cells from a baby of two Skaikru universal-donor parents, then by the magic of television science (I DON’T THINK ANY OF THIS IS REAL, I JUST MEAN BY THE RULES OF HOW THIS SHOW WORKS), that could crack the code for a vaccine that could save everyone, as Clarke always intended – not just the Sky People.  

Another factor is that a number of people have tossed around the idea of long-term cryosleep and the theories about a five-year time jump in the finale being connected; that is, maybe one of the “lifeboats” they come up with to save some portion of the group is related to putting people in long-term stasis.  @knowlesian has a fantastic theory I’ll be making her elucidate when she guest-hosts Meta Station next week about how it’s possible that Cadogan’s secret “thirteenth level” was not merely a fancier bunker, but pods for long-term space travel in cryosleep similar to the ones we learned about in that story about the asteroid miners for whom Becca invented Nightblood in the first place. It was to protect them from solar radiation while in cryosleep for long space journeys.  (One factor to consider here is the constant reiteration that Raven’s brain could heal itself if she just took it easy, which of course she never fuckin’ does; however, a five-year nap in cryostasis is probably enough time for her to wake up rested and ready for the writers not have to keep writing seizures into her storyline for Season 5.)  Again, using the magic of Television Science, something something handwave handwave the Nightblood in the placenta keeps the fetus safely in stasis while Abby goes under so they don’t have to deal with the fact that she’ll still only be 2 months along when the death wave comes.  This also makes room for the most crackpot of my crackpot Pregnant Abby theories, the idea that the season’s continued thematic parallels of Abby with Bellamy (up to and including very literal moments like Abby napping on the couch and dreaming of the 100 vs. Bellamy napping on the couch while Clarke drafts the list of the new 100) are actually clues as well.  There were 100 spots on the dropship but 101 passengers, because Bellamy stowed away.  If Cadogan left 100 cryosleep pods, there would be 101 passengers if Abby’s pregnant.

On a thematic level, of course, a baby symbolizes hope and possibility and the future; it’s a nice narrative device to tie the theme of hope which has always been primarily centered on Kane and Abby’s relationship over the course of the show and make it literal.  The first Skaikru baby being born to the Chancellors feels right, and it ramps up the emotional stakes for both of them to stratospheric levels because everything is more risky for a pregnant woman. It’s also a nice way to set up a long-term possibility for Season 5 where we get to see Skaikru emerging from the wreckage, trying to rebuild a home, and a radiation-immune Nightblood baby as a sign that the human race will continue is a nice sort of thematic illustration of that sense of possibility.  



h/t again to @brittanias and @knowlesian, as well as to @reblogginhood who occasionally feeds my tin hat conspiracy theories with things like “Vesta was a fertility goddess I’M JUST SAYING”

Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump: Comparing first 100 days of last six presidents
The first 100 days have been bumpy for other modern presidents, but none had as rocky a ride as Donald Trump has encountered during his opening days in office. Here's a look back.

Donald Trump (2017)

President Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, 2017. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

Approval rating: 43%*

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 24/22*

Major successes: Neil Gorsuch confirmed for Supreme Court; some Obama-era regulations repealed

Major setbacks: Proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act withdrawn from House; immigration orders blocked by federal courts; national security adviser Michael Flynn forced to resign

Of note: FBI confirmed investigation into whether Trump associates colluded with Russian meddling in election

Barack Obama (2009)

President Barack Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009. (Photo: Tim Sloan, AFP/Getty Images)

Approval rating: 65%

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 190/69

Major successes: Stimulus bill passed; children’s health care expanded; equal-pay protections bolstered; federal ban on embryonic stem-cell research lifted

Major setbacks: Nominee for key role of Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Daschle, forced to withdraw

Of note: Stock market bottomed out in March, a sign that the end of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression was in sight

George W. Bush (2001)

President Bush speaks to newly sworn-in White House staff members in an East Room ceremony on Jan. 22, 2001. (Photo: H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)

Approval rating: 62%

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 85/35

Major successes: House passed tax proposal, eventually signed in June, to slash income tax rates

Major setbacks: Failed to act on a blue-ribbon commission report urging changes in homeland security or on warning signs before the terror attacks on New York and Washington that would follow in September

Of note: U.S. spy plane flying over the South China Sea clipped by Chinese fighter jet and forced to land on Chinese soil

Bill Clinton (1993)

President Bill Clinton is sworn in on Jan. 20, 1993. (Photo: Ed Reinke, AP)

Approval rating: 55%

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 176/49

Major successes: Family and Medical Leave Act signed

Major setbacks: Furors over gays in the military, firing of White House travel office staffers

Of note: Hillary Rodham Clinton put in charge of signature health care overhaul, which eventually would fail.

George H.W. Bush (1989)

President George H.W. Bush is sworn into office on Jan. 20, 1989. (Photo: Bob Daugherty, AP)

Approval rating: 56%

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 95/50

Major successes: Submitted plan to bail out troubled savings and loans, eventually signed in August

Major setbacks: Nominee for Defense secretary, Texas Sen. John Tower, rejected by Senate

Of note:  Worst oil spill on U.S. territory in history when Exxon Valdez supertanker ran aground in Alaska

Ronald Reagan (1981)

President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office on Jan. 20, 1981. (Photo: Barry Thumma, AP)

Approval rating: 68%

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 128/80

Major successes: Proposed major cuts in taxes and domestic spending and an increase in military spending; Iran released U.S. hostages as he was inaugurated

Major setbacks: Fragility in the economy, which would head into recession in July

Of note: Survived assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr.

Sources: Gallup Poll; Partnership for Public Service; USA TODAY research by Susan Page

*As of April 21

warden catches me trying to smuggle embryonic fluid into my cell. two armed guards hold me down and make me watch him drink it as I scream

anonymous asked:

I HATE when people say the clitoris and the glans penis are "the same" because they developed from the same cells before differentiation in embryonic development. Arms and wings develop from the same cells before differentiation, are they they same thing?! In school I turned embryonic fly cells destined to become antennae ( in normal development) into legs by adding certain proteins at a certain time, are those the same because they came from the same cells?! Ugggg!!!

Those are good points!

Cards Against Megamind

Ever since Scowlofjustice put the idea in my head i’ve spent all day playing Cards Against Megamind with myself. Needless to say i’ve had a WONDERFUL day.

Here’s my day so far: Daddy issues , self loathing and a closed casket funeral

Still, things could be a lot worse. Oh, that’s right, I’m waking up half-naked in a Denny’s parking lot. Guess they can’t.

I was eight days old and still not contributing to society in any meaningful way

Here Is your Minion, he will take third base

You are destined for vehicular manslaughter

He bought their affections with showmanship and extravagant gifts of deliciousness. So I, too, will make vigorous jazz hands and win over Loki, the trickster god.

That’s when I learned a very hard lesson. Good receives all the praise and adulation, while evil is sent to The Make a Wish Foundation

While they were learning the Itsy Bitsy Spider I learned white privilege.

Some days, it felt like it was just me and Minion against fifty years of fanfic

Then it hit me; if I was the bad boy, then I was going to be the Former President George W. Bush

I decided to pick something a little more humble… Megamind: Incredibly handsome criminal genius and master of all poor life choices

You got a present in the mail.
Is it chunks of dead prostitute?

His heart is an erection that lasts longer than four hours that’s inside the entire cast of Downton Abbey

The greatest honor you’ve given me is Cybernetic enhancements

I tell you Minion, there’s no place like Auschwitz

Is there some kind of nerdy supervillain website where you get a windmill full of corpses and embryonic stem cells?

Stop! She’s using her Menstrual Rage on your weak-willed mind to find out all our secrets!

It is with great pleasure that I present to Metro Man my collection of high-tech sex toys

Oh! I’m shaking in my extremely tight pants!

That is if Metro Man can withstand the full, concentrated power of my inner demons!

Your weakness is a gentle caress on the inner thigh? You’re kidding right?

What if tomorrow we could go ripping into a man’s chest and pulling out his still-beating heart, that always seems to lift your spirits!

Roxie, I’m having a party at my house, it’s gonna be like, off the hook, or whatever. You should come over. I got racially-biased SAT questions , Lance Armstrong’s missing testicle , A super soaker full of cat pee, It’s gonna be sick!

What are we supposed to do? Without you evil is the holy bible

I had so many evil plans in the works, interspecies marriage, teaching a robot to love, MechaHitler, battles we will now never have.

I kept thinking he was gonna do one of his last minute poorly-timed holocaust jokes .
Yeah, he was really good at those.

Heroes can be made…. That’s it! All you need are the right ingredients… a lifetime of sadness, the token minority , the entire internet, and a smidgen of some really fucked-up shit. Oh! With that, anyone can be a hero!

Oh no, not you Roxanne… I was just yelling at…. not Satan, I promise

Minion! Code: Ethnic cleansing

Oh yes, I’m doing horrible things to that man. I don’t want to get into it but Graphic violence, adult language and some sexual content, you know the drill.

Well, in sh…school… none of the other kids really liked me. I was always picking up girls at the abortion clinic.

Just a few alterations sir and I will be done with your most terrifying cape yet! I’m calling it The Violation of our most basic human rights

I may not know much, but I do know this. The bad guy doesn’t get the mere concept of Applebee’s

My sole purpose in life is getting married, having a few kids, buying some stuff, retiring to Florida and dying.

Code: I’ll just pack my Dalek porn and go!

Not the only exciting development of the night! Megamind’s concealing a boner! And I know why!

Roxanne? Say I wasn’t so normal. Let’s say I was a gender identity that can only be conveyed through slam poetry and had the complexion of a mime having a stroke as a random, nonspecific example…

You there! Yeah you. Bring out my manservant, Claude

And the hero strikes the first blow! But evil returns with a cooler full of organs

Guess what, Buster Brown? It’s made from Harry Potter Erotica you’re powerless against it!

I began to realize, despite all my powers, each and every citizen of Metro had something I didn’t. Crystal meth

I was finally free to get in touch with my true power, Leaving an awkward voicemail.

I have eyes that can see right through heteronormativity

I’m the bad guy. I don’t save the day. I don’t fly off into the sunset, and I don’t get all you can eat shrimp for $4.99.

I want to talk to the real Hal. I want to talk to the guy who loved not wearing pants, and Doin’ it in the butt, and praying the gay away and being not as scary as the Tighten Hal.

And my best friend Minion, I treated like my ex-wife

You’re living a fantasy. There is no Darth Vader, there is no skeletor, and there is no Nicolas Cage!

“Oh you’re a villain all right! Just not a super one!”
“Yeah? What’s the difference?”
“Crippling debt!”

We’ve had a lot of adventures together, you and I. I mean, most of them ended in throwing a virgin into a volcano, but we won today, didn’t we sir?

Ladies and gentlemen! Megamind, defender of licking things to claim them as your own

lifeonwheels  asked:

Hi! So, I have a facebook friend asking for non-religious arguments against stem-cell research, abortion, and same sex marriage. I am familiar with some things on abortion, but do you have any ideas for the others? They mostly asked to be sarcastic, but I would love to send them something just to say "religious people have valid philosophical backgrounds k thx."


Secular Pro-Life is a large pro-life organization for atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists. However, they do not have a stance on abortion in cases of rape (Silence is never a good thing and it makes me uncomfortable.) and they support contraception. I’d be careful with them.

The arguments against embryonic stem cell research are similar to those against abortion. This interview is from 2008 and by this time, they could get adult skin cells to behave like embryos for research. This means that embryos are not needed for this purpose. Embryonic stem cell research is an ethical issue that also concerns non-Christians like the one interviewed. You can read the transcript here:


This article about same sex marriage is from MIT’s student newspaper. It was written in 2004, but the arguments still apply. You can read it here:


This is a secular website that has a lot of links to articles, including the one above. They quote a few same sex attracted secularists who are against same sex marriage. You can read Seculars Against Gay Marriage here:


If you need more information, let me know.

May God bless you and guide you!

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

María de Fátima

N6-methyladenine: A Newly Discovered Epigenetic Modification 

The majority of cellular functions are carried out by proteins encoded by specific genes present in cellular DNA. Genes are first transcribed to RNA which is then translated to proteins. The regulation of this process is important for maintaining correct cellular function. One of the ways that cells regulate gene expression is by epigenetic modifications to chromatin. The term “epigenetics” refers to reversible chemical modifications of DNA and histone proteins (DNA in the nucleus of eukaryotes is wrapped around histones) that affect the transcriptional status of genes. A number of histone modifications such as methylation and acetylation of lysine residues have already been discovered and characterized. Until recently; however, methylation of the 5 position of cytosine was the only known epigenetic DNA modification (A). Methylation of cytosine by DNA methyltransferases is associated with transcriptional silencing, while the removal of these methyl groups by TET enzymes is associated with transcriptional re-activation (B and C). In addition to controlling gene silencing, cytosine methylation also silences retrotransposons, a class of mobile genetic elements. If left unregulated, transposons can insert themselves into important regions of the genome and lead to mutagenesis.

Recently, N6-methyladenine, a new epigenetic modification, was discovered in mammalian cells. N6-mA had previously been discovered in prokaryotes and simple eukaryotes and was shown to function as a transcriptional activator. By contrast, a recent report published in Nature, has shown that N6-mA functions as a transcriptional silencer in mammalian cells, specifically in mouse embryonic stem cells. N6-mA primarily acts to silence the LINE-1 family of retrotransposons during early embryogenesis, which prevents genomic instability. The authors identified N6-mA by using a modified single molecule DNA sequencing technique. DNA bound to a specific modified histone protein was immunoprecipitated using an antibody against a specific histone modification (H2A.X), sequenced, and analyzed by mass spectrometry (D). This identified and determined the position of N6-mA. The authors then generated knockouts of the enzyme Alkbh1, which they believed may function as a demethylase for N6-mA. When Alkbh1 was absent from cells, they found an increase in the levels of N6-mA, showing that Alkbh1 functions as an N6-mA demethylase in vivo. This is important because epigenetic modifications are reversible. Genes can be turned off by methylation and then turned back on by removing the methyl group, so determining the enzyme responsible for the removal of N6-mA supports its role as an epigenetic modification.

For more information see:


As always, I’m happy to answer any questions or go into more detail.

Mini Canon:

Henry’s tentacles, while terrifying in appearance, have the ability to heal. When he wraps them around a person’s injured area, he will lactate a moist oil, rich with embryonic stem cells. These cells can regenerate muscle tissue, bones, skin cells, blood vessels, & restore organ/brain damage at a grossly fast rate. And because these cells are young & differentiate from the rest of his body, the person he’s healing doesn’t have to fear mutation. They are also compatible with all species types, including angel, fairy, & dragon.

[Requested by @spockoandjimjim​]

Caitian mummies, (half?-)Vulcan?/Romulan? elven archers, baby fairies gripping the shirts of older siblings….

Jim feeling emotional about children, about how he loves to see all the costumes and the grinning faces, about how he never got to see David at this age, about how he knows he traded a chance at a family for a life among the stars but that still doesn’t make the “what if’s” go away during retirement….

Spock feeling illogically guilty as if he personally stole Jim’s chance at a family by serving with him on the Enterprise, feeling that he has barely made it as a Terran’s lover and that he is terrified that he would never be able to make for a good Terran father, feeling suddenly very very old, feeling that he’s willing to try for Jim’s sake nonetheless….

Spock quietly, carefully, sincerely pulling Jim close to him that evening and proposing embryonic cell generation… proposing children….

Jim suddenly breaking down into tears against Spock’s chest. Spock being taken aback but just holding his sobbing t’hy’la tighter. Jim coming up an eternity later smiling through the last of his tears. They’re too old. It’s too late. But Spock offering, Spock holding him tenderly while he releases all of the fear of alternatives that has built up over the years, Spock – simply Spock – lets him finally come to terms with that fact….

And Jim smiling up at Spock and shaking his head no.

Vascular smooth muscle cells

Our hearts pump some 50 million gallons of blood in our lifetime, and our arteries take a beating because of it. Arteries have the critical task of withstanding the high blood pressure that comes with each heart stroke. To do this, arteries are lined with thick vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) that contract and relax to control blood pressure and secrete proteins to cushion against each and every heartbeat. In this image, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into VSMCs as shown by smooth muscle-specific markers in red and green. Creating VSMCs will be useful to study vascular abnormalities found in several diseases, including muscular dystrophy.

Image by Leslie Caron.

Clinical Trial Offers Hope to Restore Limb Function in Man with Complete Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

Physicians at Rush University Medical Center became the first in Illinois to inject AST-OPC1 (oligodendrocyte progenitor cells), an experimental treatment, into the damaged cervical spine of a recently paralyzed man as part of a multicenter clinical trial.

Dr. Richard G. Fessler, professor of neurological surgery at Rush University Medical Center, is principal investigator for the Phase 1/2a, multicenter clinical trial involving AST-OPC1 at Rush, one of six centers in the country currently studying this new approach.

Fessler injected an experimental dose of 10 million AST-OPC1 cells directly into the paralyzed man’s cervical spinal cord in mid-August. These injected cells were derived from human embryonic stem cells. They work by supporting the proper functioning of nerve cells, potentially helping to restore the conductivity of signals from the brain to the upper extremities (hands, arms, fingers) in a recently damaged spinal cord.

Interim research results from the trial were announced at the 55th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS), which was held in Vienna, Austria, on September 14-16, 2016.

“Until now, there have been no new treatment options for the 17,000 new spinal cord injuries that happen each year,” says Fessler. “We may be on the verge of making a major breakthrough after decades of attempts.”

The next phase of the clinical research trial will involve a dose of 20 million oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, which is the highest dose being studied in this study involving patients who have recently suffered a complete cervical spinal cord injury.

“These injuries can be devastating, causing both emotional and physical distress, but there is now hope. In the 20 years of my research, we have now reached a new era where we hope to demonstrate through research that a dose of very specially made human cells delivered directly to the injured site can have an impact on motor or sensory function,” says Fessler. “Generating even modest improvements in motor or sensory function can possibly result in significant improvements in quality of life.”

Early research results from the trial were announced at the 55th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS), which is being held in Vienna, Austria, on September 14-16, 2016.

“Our preliminary results show that we may in fact be getting some regeneration. Some of those who have lost use of their hands are starting to get function back. That’s the first time in history that’s ever been done,” says Fessler. “Just as a journey of a thousand miles is done one step at a time, repairing spinal cord injuries is being done one step at a time. And, now, we can say that we’ve taken that first step.”

The clinical trial is designed to assess safety and effectiveness of escalating doses of the special cells (AST-OPC1) in individuals with a complete cervical spinal cord injury. Thus far, three individuals have been enrolled in the study at Rush.
The trial has involved the testing of three escalating doses of AST-OPC1 in patients with subacute, C5-C7, neurologically-complete cervical spinal cord injury. These individuals have essentially lost all sensation and movement below their injury site with severe paralysis of the upper and lower limbs. AST-OPC1 is administered 14 to 30 days post-injury. Patients will be followed by neurological exams and imaging methods to assess the safety and activity of the product.

“In the future, this treatment may potentially be used for peripheral nerve injury or other conditions which affect the spinal cord, such as MS,” says Fessler.

For this therapy to work, the cord has to be in continuity and not severed, according to Fessler. The study seeks male and female patients ages 18 to 65 who recently experienced a complete cervical spinal cord injury at the neck that resulted in tetraplegia, the partial or total paralysis of arms, legs and torso. Patients must be able to start screening within 25 days of their injury, and participate in an elective surgical procedure to inject AST-OPC1 14 to 30 days following injury. Participants also must be able to provide consent and commit to a long-term follow-up study.

The study is funded by Asterias Biotherapeutics, which developed the AST-OPC1 (oligodendrocyte progenitor cells) treatment used in the study, and also in part by a $14.3 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

AST-OPC1 cells are made from embryonic stem cells by carefully converting them into oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs), which are cells found in the brain and spinal cord that support the healthy functioning of nerve cells. In previous laboratory studies, AST-OPC1 was shown to produce neurotrophic factors, stimulate vascularization and induce remyelination of denuded axons. All are critical factors in the survival, regrowth and conduction of nerve impulses through axons at the injury site, according to Edward D. Wirth III, MD, PhD, chief medical director of Asterias and lead investigator of the study, dubbed “SCiStar.”

Now we can make sperm, is this the end of men?  Julie Bindel

When I heard the news that stem cell scientists have managed to create an artificial version of sperm in the laboratory from embryonic cells, and used it to create healthy baby mice, I recalled the opposition to lesbians using sperm donors and a turkey baster to reproduce back in the 1980s. Men, and sometimes other women, would ask if this was the beginning of the end of men.

I took part in a TV debate about lesbian mothers at the time, and was asked by the host whether “the male race” would die out because all we would need would be sperm banks.

 I was always quite puzzled at how these critics thought we would be able to prevent male babies from being born via this method, but I understood the wider point that men were feeling insecure about not even being needed, at least directly, in the pregnancy process.

Although the latest breakthrough appears to have been about helping men whose fertility is damaged by cancer treatment, mumps or other problems that prevent them from producing sperm, tall tales of man-hating feminists with an agenda to wipe out men usually pop up from somewhere.

darkstar8909-deactivated2014121  asked:

For what reason do you wish for the destruction of traditional family values? (Referring to a post of yours reblogged by a blogger I follow) I'm not defending them, I'm just wondering.

This ask in reference to this post. I’ve talked about my disdain for the concept of “family values” before, but I’ll revisit it now.

“Family values”, as it is currently used in America, was first introduced through the Republican Party’s 1976 platform, but it really took off as a buzzword after 1980. Dan Quayle used it in his Vice Presidential nomination acceptance speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. In the speech, he said:

Like so many Americans, for me, family comes first. When family values are undermined, our country suffers. All too often, parents struggle to instill character in their sons and daughters—only to see their values belittled and their beliefs mocked by those who look down on America. Americans try to raise their children to understand right and wrong—only to be told that every so-called “lifestyle alternative” is morally equivalent. That is wrong.

The gap between us and our opponents is a cultural divide. It is not just a difference between [being] conservative and liberal; it is a difference between fighting for what is right and refusing to see what is wrong.

…on behalf of family values, we’ve taken on Hollywood and the media elite—and we will not back down.

As such, the term “family values” is an inherently political one, and is not one representing any sort of eternal social order. When I speak out in support of “destruction of traditional family values”, that doesn’t mean that I want to see families torn apart or for society to become deprived of any values; it means that I want to see the elimination of the enforcement of many of the societal values promoted by traditionalist right-wingers. 

What are these values? Let’s look at the 2012 Republican platform to get an idea to get an idea of the cultural and social positions and policies that are advocated for by the architects of “family values”. These include things such as:

  • Public display of the Ten Commandments
  • Support for school prayer
  • Government funding of faith-based charities
  • A federal investigation into attempts by same-sex marriage supporters to “to deny religious believers their civil rights” through “hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism”
  • A Constitutional amendment defining marriage (which they call “the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values”) as between one man and one woman
  • Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell military policy
  • A Constitutional Amendment overturning Roe v. Wade
  • Opposition to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research
  • Opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide
  • Reverence of the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance
  • Banning online gambling
  • “Vigorously enforc[ing]” current laws against pornography and obscenity
  • Eliminating “family planning” programs in favor of abstinence-only sex-ed
  • Opposition to “school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception”

I would also argue that their cultural views are a notable factor in their positions on immigration and their “tough approach to crime” (to use another buzz phrase), though in a slightly more subtle way.

In other words, while they may avoid using language that makes it explicit, opting instead for dog-whistle terms like “family values”, they are calling for a culture of exclusion and a culture where people’s lives are dictated by archaic social norms that are now largely arbitrary (despite their claims that said norms are or should be nearly universal). They are calling for state enforcement of conservative Christian values, a culture that restricts civil liberties, civil rights, and effective political policy in favor of an enforcement of their deontological values.

I oppose this agenda, full stop. I oppose it both ideologically and in terms of policy. I want to see a liberal and inclusive society, a legally secular society without institutionalized patriarchy, cisheteronormativity, white supremacy, and all other similar barriers to full societal participation. I have no use for romanticization of the cultural norms of the past; I want to start the process of creating a culture that allows for the full development of human potential and for every individual to respectfully and peacefully present and express themselves as they wish.

Researchers make groundbreaking discovery, use skin cells to kill cancer

In a first for medical science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pharmacy researchers turn skin cells into cancer-hunting stem cells that destroy brain tumors known as glioblastoma – a discovery that can offer, for the first time in more than 30 years, a new and more effective treatment for the disease.

The technique, reported in Nature Communications, builds upon the newest version of the Nobel Prize-winning technology from 2007, which allowed researchers to turn skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells. Researchers hailed the possibilities for use in regenerative medicine and drug screening. Now, researchers have found a new use: killing brain cancer.

“Patients desperately need a better standard of care,” said Shawn Hingtgen, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Care Center, who led the study.

The survival rate beyond two years for a patient with a glioblastoma is 30 percent because it is so difficult to treat. Even if a surgeon removes most of the tumor, it’s nearly impossible to get the invasive, cancerous tendrils that spread deeper into the brain and inevitably the remnants grow back. Most patients die within a year and a half of their diagnosis.

Hingtgen and his team want to improve those statistics by developing a new personalized treatment for glioblastoma that starts with a patient’s own skin cells, with the goal of getting rid of the cancerous tendrils, effectively killing the glioblastoma.

In their work, Hingtgen and his team reprogram skin cells known as fibroblasts – which produce collagen and connective tissue — to become induced neural stem cells. Working with mice, Hingtgen’s team showed that these neural stem cells have an innate ability to move throughout the brain and home in on and kill any remaining cancer cells. The team also showed that these stem cells could be engineered to produce a tumor-killing protein, adding another blow to the cancer.

Depending on the type of tumor, the Hingtgen’s team increased survival time of the mice 160 to 220 percent. Next steps will focus on human stem cells and testing more effective anti-cancer drugs that can be loaded into the tumor-seeking neural stem cells.

“Our work represents the newest evolution of the stem-cell technology that won the Nobel Prize in 2012,” Hingtgen said. “We wanted to find out if these induced neural stem cells would home in on cancer cells and whether they could be used to deliver a therapeutic agent. This is the first time this direct reprogramming technology has been used to treat cancer.”

Hingtgen’s team is also currently improving the staying power of stem cells within the surgical cavity. They discovered that the stem cells needed a physical matrix to support and organize them, so they will hang around long enough to seek out the cancerous tendrils. “Without a structure like that, the stem cells wander off too quickly to do any good,” said Hingtgen, who reported this result in a separate journal called Biomaterials.

In that study, Hingtgen and his team added his stem cells to an FDA-approved fibrin sealant commonly used as surgical glue. The physical matrix it creates tripled the retention of stem cells in the surgical cavity, providing further support for the applicability and strength of the technique.