Immune to Cancer - Scientists discovered that some mice just don't get cancer--they seem somehow immune. So they took the white blood cells of those cancer resistant mice, and inject them into previously non-resistant mice. Within a few days or weeks of being injected, those normal mice become resistant or immune to cancer.
Will this approach work in humans?
Toward answering that question, scientists have identified humans with white cells that are resistant or immune to cancer. The next step is to take the white cells of those cancer resistant humans (assuming they can be identified) and inject those cells into non-resistant humans. However, some scientists believe such a procedure poses serious dangers.
- Scientists identify mice that are immune to cancer
- Scientists inject white blood cells of immune mice into non-immune mice
- Injected mice become immune to cancer
- Scientists identified humans with cancer resistant white cells
- Scientist want to inject cells into non-resistant humans
- Other scientists resist approach saying it's too dangerous(?)
Where do we go from here?
Immune cells and stem cells. How we define ourselves, our humanness needs to be updated. Bush vetoed a bill that would allow researchers to use human embryos (very few cell divisions) for research. If not used for research, these human embryos will be destroyed, so in a sense it's about a missed opportunity. But Bush fears the slippery slope. If these cell lines become useful, scientists will want others and press the existing ethical boundaries of human research further. How long will it be before they openly solicit for human embryos? The curently available embryos are not longer wanted by their fertility-challenged donors. They will not be used for their intended purpose. Can those purposes change? Can their usefulness change?
Bush is right about the slippery slope. We will press the ethical limits. That is our nature, to press limits. It is the nature of life, the model of life. Life presses limits until life is no longer possible. Along the way, great diversity is created, diversity which is able to adapt to the chaos of changing limits (a changing environment).
Variability, heritability, differential survival and reproduction -- that is the evolutionary biologist's mantra. Persistence takes all four properties. At least that's one model. In the end, it's all about adaptability, whether on the level of the individual, species, ecosystem, planet. How can we view adapatablity? As an individual, if I can adapt to changing circumstances, "I" continue. As a species, if the species possesses enough diversity of individuals, the "species" can adapt to changing circumstance. Ecosystem, the same. But what about the Planet? Perhaps that's an entirely different scope...or maybe not. And what makes a planet living or dead? If it can sustain life? If it is evolving in the direction to sustain life as we know it. Surely, there are possibilities for live that are beyond our experience or imagination.
Are You Immune to Cancer? at Discover.com
|Stopping Cancer Before It Starts: The American Institute for Cancer Research's Program for Cancer Prevention|