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Monday, January 31, 2005

Madison Scientists Turn Stem Cells Into Neurons

Posted by: Hammer / 3:46 PM

AP :
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison reported Sunday that they've whipped up an exciting — but intricate — new recipe that could someday treat spinal cord injuries or provide a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Step one: Take human embryonic stem cells, the microscopic dots that have brought condemnation from the pope, opposition from the president and people generally opposed to abortion. Add pinches of chemicals, dashes of other biological ingredients implicated in brain growth at just the right moment and voila: brain cells called motor neurons that control every body movement.

... "This shows that you can't dump whatever growth factors you want in there," Zhang said. "It's not that simple. It's very specific. You have to have the right cocktail in the right amount at the right time."

So, so true -- for humans, at least. Especially during the playoffs.

Sadly, the new motor neurons did not survive the Langdon Street binge drinking which began immediately following the discovery. The scientists involved are now seeking grant funding to educate the neurons on safe levels of alcohol consumption.

Please, Mr. Madison Scientist, Ph.D. -- let's not reinforce negative stereotypes about Wisconsin. Kudos on your success, but choose your words more carefully. How about "mixture"? "Recipe"? "Melange"?


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