Embryonic Stem Cells and Media Madness
Driving home from work today I heard the news that scientists had made a breakthrough which could possibly help with male infertility. They had created mouse sperm from mouse embryonic stem cells (ESC) and used that sperm in the creation of 7 baby mice. The news brieflet was, well, brief and they mentioned that 6 out of the 7 baby mice survived.
Reading an online article paints a less rosy picture, although you wouldn't know it by the headline. The problems that weren't mentioned on the radio?
1) All of the animals born in the study were infertile
2) All suffered from severe breathing or walking difficulties
3) All were abnormally large or had stunted growth.
4) All died within three days to five months of being born, compared with the normal lifespan of two years for healthy mice.
5) They attempted to fertilize 210 eggs, 65 succeeded and only 7 of them led to live births.
This is the best success they have had with ESC. Compare this with the 70 odd current treatments from Adult Stem Cells and you have to wonder why the media makes such a big deal about such useless rubbish as this great new 'hope'.
The news article says it all
The research is expected to have greater impact, in the near term at least, by giving scientists the ability to follow the processes by which sperm develop, a powerful tool that could shed light on the root causes of some of the most poorly understood male infertility-related conditions.but then later on says
Other scientists have succeeded in generating sperm and even eggs from stem cells, but Professor Nayernia's group is the first to achieve live births.So to put it another way...the 'great' impact this research is to do stuff already done by others? And how much funding was wasted?