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Of Mice and Men

More excellent news about stem cell research, this time from John’s Hopkins University:

Stem cells taken from mouse embryos have helped paralyzed rats move again, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

The study was the best evidence so far that controversial embryonic stem cells might be used to treat people with spinal cord and other traumatic injuries, the researchers said.

“This study provides a ‘recipe’ for using stem cells to reconnect the nervous system,” Dr. Douglas Kerr of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said in a statement.

“It raises the notion that we can eventually achieve this in humans, although we have a long way to go … We found that we needed a combination of all of the treatments in order to restore function.”

Kerr and colleagues used a soup of compounds called growth factors to cause stem cells from the mouse embryos to develop into a type of nerve cell called a motor neuron.

Writing in the Annals of Neurology, they said the transplanted cells, combined with the right mix of compounds, helped paralyzed rats regrow some of their nerve cells and use their hind legs.

“This work is a remarkable advance that can help us understand how stem cells might be used to treat injuries and disease and begin to fulfill their great promise,” said Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the study.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells and can be found circulating in the blood and in tissues. Scientists hope to learn to use them to regenerate cells, organs and tissues.

It’s good to play God.


Craig Biddle

Craig Biddle is the editor of The Objective Standard and the author of Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It, a highly concretized, systematic introduction to Ayn Rand’s ethics. His forthcoming book, Thinking in Principles: The Science of Selfishness, is about how most effectively to use one’s mind in the service of one’s life, liberty, and happiness. In addition to writing, he teaches seminars on ethical and epistemological issues from an Objectivist perspective. His website is

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