A Trio of Items From Betterhumans

Three items over at Betterhumans caught my eye today.

Another potential source of multipotent stem cells:

Testicles from newborn mice have yielded stem cells that could rival those from embryos in their treatment potential.

Japanese researchers led by Takashi Shinohara from Kyoto University report that they have established a line of potent cells from neonatal mouse testes using a special cell culturing method.

Treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration:

Two new trials have shown that a drug injected into the eye can effectively treat a potentially blinding form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).


The wet form of AMD represents about 10% of the disease's overall prevalence but is responsible for 90% of severe vision loss. In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow under the central retina and cause a progressive loss of central vision. This interferes with everyday tasks such as driving.

Debating the ethics of human enhancement:

American bioethicists Arthur Caplan and Carl Elliott recently debated the issues in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine. Caplan is chair of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Elliott is associate professor at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, as well as the author of Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream.


Ultimately, [opposition to enhancement] posits a static vision of human nature to which the [opposition activists] mandate we reconcile ourselves. If anything is clear about human nature, it is that this is not an accurate view of who we have been or what we are now, or a view that should determine what we become.

Quite aside from concepts of freedom and the merits of letting anyone control or restrict medical research and access to healthy life extension technologies (any such thing is hugely immoral in the libertarian worldview), Caplan has it right in his comment above. It is in our nature to change ourselves, to reach for what we can envisage. We can envisage longer, healthier lives and the technologies required to get there - those who stand in the way are guilty of prolonging death and suffering on an enormous scale.


Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.