Stroke help and more on the horizon

The ABCs of Biotech for Christians - Twenty-first in a series - T is for Tumor Necrosis Factor

Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) is a pro inflammatory cytokine, a protein that signals information. We laypeople will approach this subject from a simpler perspective.

Have you ever had a problem with inflammation? Probably so. If you have ever had a fever, you had a system-wide inflammation, but it may not have been a very big health dilemma. However, if you have or have had severe brain injury, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis or other major health challenge, then you understand that inflammation is a serious problem. You have too much TNF.

Some diseases are caused or result from the body’s turning on itself. “An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake.” For example in multiple sclerosis, the person’s immune system attacks a fatty material, myelin, which wraps around nerve fibers to protect them. Without that outer shell, the nerves become damaged, so the brain cannot send signals through the body correctly. What causes MS and other autoimmune diseases?

For most, the cause is unknown. Certainly the usual suspects are to be blamed: not enough rest or sleep, lack of exercise, poor diet, stress. Leading an unhealthy lifestyle eventually will take a toll on us. Unfortunately, those causes are not always possible to address in some lives, in a timely manner. Also, heredity may be the chief culprit. The biotech challenge is to find answers for healing no matter what the causes.

Medical researchers have have learned a lot about TNF and its role in illness. It has been found to induce fever, activate the coagulation system, induce hypoglycemia, slow down heart contractions, reduce vascular resistance, bring about weakness, and help to control bacterial growth in septic shock. And a lot more.

A particularly exciting discovery is how TNF can be reduced to restore normal functioning in stroke victims. The YouTube video describes and shows the process, and the many comments on the page are enlightening as well.

This topic shows how biotech discoveries are moving mountains without using embryonic stem cells. This is the research we should applaud and encourage young doctors and scientists to pursue.

Stand for life

The ABCs of Biotech for Christians - Twentieth in a series - S is for Stem Cells

Killjoy: noun. a person who deliberately spoils the enjoyment of others through resentful or overly sober behavior.
synonyms: spoilsport, wet blanket, damper, party pooper; prophet of doom

Is that me?

I am pro-life and I do not want scientists to use embryonic stem cells in experiments.

“The problem we have with embryonic stem cells is simply the fact that you have to destroy a young human being to get embryonic stem cells,” says David Prentice, senior fellow for life science at the Family Research Council, an advocacy group. “We would reject the idea that any human being be destroyed for experimental purposes.”

In a previous post, types of stem cells were described. Pro-lifers are in favor of adult stem cell therapies.

It hardly seems to matter what pro-lifers think. ES cell therapies are continuing to develop at warp speed and it is likely that they will soon “hold a candle” to the adult stem cell therapies that actually heal conditions from paralysis to macular degeneration.

Consider this excerpt from a recent article:

Embryonic stem (ES) cells provide unparallelled information on early development. Like astronomers looking back to the Big Bang for fundamental insight about the Universe, biologists rake over the molecules inside these remarkable entities for clues as to how a single original cell turns into trillions, with a dizzying array of forms and functions. Scientists have learnt how to turn the cells into dozens of mature cell types representing various tissues and organs in the body. These are used to test drugs, to model disease and, increasingly, as therapies injected into the body. Starting with an attempt to repair spinal-cord injuries in 2010, there have been more than a dozen clinical trials of cells created from ES cells — to treat Parkinson’s disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Early results suggest that some approaches are working: a long-awaited report this week shows improved vision in two people with age-related macular degeneration, a disease that destroys the sharpness of vision.

Another recent article states that Japan is about to allow gene editing of human embryos.

The tampering with human embryos has included their use in flavoring for beverages, in skin products, and even in jewelry creation. And ES cells have been inserted into mice and other creatures for experimentation.

God is not mocked. Sorry to be a killjoy.

Destroying new life with its pluripotent potential to grow to a full-size human being to divert it to a way of benefitting or amusing a fellow human, is anti-human. If we cannibalize one another for personal gain, what have we become?

But, you may say, are we not doing much the same when we transplant organs from deceased people or even when we donate blood? Now think: Is there a difference between using skin and bone from cadavers in research labs and using embryonic stem cells? Is your blood a human by scientific definition?

Are there no differentiations? And we wonder, if we stand against certain types of therapies in theory, will we be able to know in practice whether we have violated our own principles? Induced pluripotent stem cells are combined with ES cells. So are adult ones. We would not necessarily know.

But if offered the opportunity to try a new therapy that is known to incorporate ES cells, would you say Yes?

...Is life so dear, or health so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of human life? Forbid it, Almighty God!

Paraphrased from Patrick Henry: … Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!

Let’s pursue adult stem cell therapies. There is a difference.

Angel fish
Public Domain, Link

...and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind ... the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind ...the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. -Genesis 1


A SistersSite eBook

Flesh and Bone and The Protestant Conscience is an e-book on It is 99¢ and in the Amazon lending library as well. It is also available here in PDF format. The book description follows.

Would you let your conscience be your guide?

Does God care if the skin and bone of the dead are passed along to the living for medical uses? Is organ donation OK with God? Should you sign a Living Will?

Did you know that dead organ donors are often anesthetized before their organs are removed? Do you know the current definition of death? The conscience cannot function without facts.

As we ponder the ethics of in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and man-made chimeras, our thoughts trail off. How then should we live? (Ez 33:10)

How should a Christian think about euthanasia by starvation when doctors and the state attorney general all agree it is time to withhold feeding from a brain injured patient? Some things are family matters, but someday it may be our family.

Here is a small book to help you think about whether you want to sign your driver's license, donate a kidney, cremate your loved one, and many other practical questions that may arise in the course of your healthcare decisions or watch over others.

It offers a special focus on the doctrine of the Resurrection that is related to such decisions. Sunday School classes and Bible Study groups could use this book to facilitate discussion about the issues covered.