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Old 2010-09-10, 12:17   Link #21
Kaijo
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This is a hot button topic, and a lot of what I was going to say, has already been said. Both Embryo and Adult stem cells have their pros and cons. But as far as life goes, there is something else to consider.

When people turn to invitro fertilization in order to have a child, it takes a lot of eggs and sperm to finally get one that works. A lot of fertilized cells are thus frozen and forgotten about once the couple finally gets a working pregnancy. What happens to them? Generally, they are kept for a long time, and then destroyed. If you really believe that life starts at conception, then you should be championing to have the woman implant all those fertilized eggs and have the babies.

But you won't hear people arguing that, because even the most die-hard fundamentalist wants the benefits of science while side-stepping the moral issues. You'd have to argue against invitro fertilization because by definition of your faith, it results in the death of embryos, ie, babies.

So the process for gaining embryo stem cells is already happening; instead of studying them, though, we're just leaving them frozen and eventually trashing them. Instead of trashing them, why not use them for research?

Now, assume that embryo stem cells work for a large number of diseases or conditions. We don't need to go creating babies specifically to harvest them. Only one fertilized egg is needed, because they can use just that one to continually create however many stems I might need over the course of my life. The "baby" technically never dies; it's just never born.

The main arguments you will see against this, is people claiming that babies will be grown and farmed. Lives will be killed to save other lives, but this is technically not true, and won't be the end result. Instead, just like invitro fertilization, you'll have one or two cell clumps in reserve from which any number of stem cells can be generated.

In short, you're either for both invitro fertilization and embryonic stem cells, or against them both. And so far, there hasn't been much of a fuss about invitro fertilization, and we've already seen incredible benefits in allowing parents to have children, who had problems with the natural method.
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Old 2010-09-10, 14:50   Link #22
JMvS
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Sorry Kaijo, but on a few points you are making gross oversimplifications or just being plainly wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
This is a hot button topic, and a lot of what I was going to say, has already been said. Both Embryo and Adult stem cells have their pros and cons. But as far as life goes, there is something else to consider.

When people turn to invitro fertilization in order to have a child, it takes a lot of eggs and sperm to finally get one that works. A lot of fertilized cells are thus frozen and forgotten about once the couple finally gets a working pregnancy. What happens to them? Generally, they are kept for a long time, and then destroyed. If you really believe that life starts at conception, then you should be championing to have the woman implant all those fertilized eggs and have the babies.

But you won't hear people arguing that, because even the most die-hard fundamentalist wants the benefits of science while side-stepping the moral issues. You'd have to argue against invitro fertilization because by definition of your faith, it results in the death of embryos, ie, babies.
You are seriously underestimating the power of human convictions here. For I have met peoples who mere militating exactly on these issues:
Pushing for allowing surplus IVF embryos to be adopted. Trust me, there are peoples for whom human life is absolute as that, and there are other peoples ready to adopt an embryo (i.e couples unables to procreate, but with the woman with a perfectly functional matrix, she can even carry it past her menopause).

And sometimes more than the whole issue of manipulating human reproduction, the fate of surplus embryos is precisely one of the main concerns of many pro-life or christian activists in IVF related issues. Some simply reconcile it by implanting all the embryos produced for the IVF procedure, thus producing no surplus embryos.

The most die-hard fundamentalist wanting the benefits of science while side-stepping the moral issues? Do you really think human convictions work this way? Have you not heard of peoples refusing blood transfusion because it goes against their beliefs? Why do you think there are ethical commities overseeing ethically sensible fields of research? Or maybe you've not heard of massive protests against GMOs? Or other simply dying for whatever idea?

Quote:
So the process for gaining embryo stem cells is already happening; instead of studying them, though, we're just leaving them frozen and eventually trashing them. Instead of trashing them, why not use them for research?
That's a nice utilitarian argument, but one peoples will still oppose you on. For those valuing human individuals rights in the broadest possible sense, this is nothing but organ stealing.

Quote:
Now, assume that embryo stem cells work for a large number of diseases or conditions. We don't need to go creating babies specifically to harvest them. Only one fertilized egg is needed, because they can use just that one to continually create however many stems I might need over the course of my life. The "baby" technically never dies; it's just never born.
You're making two disputable assumptions here, and another simple mistake: curative usefulness of embryonic stem cells is still far from being proven, and the actual range of its application still vague; and you are plainly ignoring immunity issues.
And yes the "baby" dies: for the moment it is dismantled to extract its pluripotent cells, the possibility of it growing into a full human organism is terminated, for those cells have the potential of turning in all kinds of tissue, but not a whole organism.
For example, peoples have been keeping some chicken hearth tissue alive for who knows how long in a vat somewhere, but the chicken is long dead.

Quote:
The main arguments you will see against this, is people claiming that babies will be grown and farmed. Lives will be killed to save other lives, but this is technically not true, and won't be the end result. Instead, just like invitro fertilization, you'll have one or two cell clumps in reserve from which any number of stem cells can be generated.
As I aforementioned, you simply pass by the issues regarding immunological compatibility.

Quote:
In short, you're either for both invitro fertilization and embryonic stem cells, or against them both. And so far, there hasn't been much of a fuss about invitro fertilization, and we've already seen incredible benefits in allowing parents to have children, who had problems with the natural method.
So no, it is not that simple.
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Old 2010-09-10, 18:17   Link #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMvS View Post
You are seriously underestimating the power of human convictions here. For I have met peoples who mere militating exactly on these issues:
Pushing for allowing surplus IVF embryos to be adopted. Trust me, there are peoples for whom human life is absolute as that, and there are other peoples ready to adopt an embryo (i.e couples unables to procreate, but with the woman with a perfectly functional matrix, she can even carry it past her menopause).
Yes, I agree I'm simplifying on a few things, but the number of people who push for this, is a far, far smaller number. There are people who argue for anything, of course; the fringe groups. But I haven't seen any outrage on the news over invitro fertilization. Wherever I turn, it's mainly about abortion and the fear that babies will be farmed out.

So while I agree that I generalized a bit, there's merit in the statements because they are generally true. I grew up in a Christian church that was Pro-Life. They were absolutely for invitro fertilization, seeing nothing wrong with it as it was helping people. They were against abortion and embryonic stem cell research, though.

Quote:
The most die-hard fundamentalist wanting the benefits of science while side-stepping the moral issues? Do you really think human convictions work this way? Have you not heard of peoples refusing blood transfusion because it goes against their beliefs? Why do you think there are ethical commities overseeing ethically sensible fields of research? Or maybe you've not heard of massive protests against GMOs? Or other simply dying for whatever idea?
You're strawmanning my position a bit. Yes, there are ethical concerns that should be considered with scientific fields, but in the context of Embryonic stem cell research, there shouldn't be anyway. Moral issues maybe, but not ethical. For the record, I am against GMOs, but that is not what this conversation is about.

Quote:
That's a nice utilitarian argument, but one peoples will still oppose you on. For those valuing human individuals rights in the broadest possible sense, this is nothing but organ stealing.
I don't care if they oppose it, because each person has to make a decision: do they want the government mandating what you can and cannot do with regards to your health and your body? Or do you believe in individual liberties, where the government should not intervene unless there is direct harm to another living being?

I'm sorry, but scientifically speaking, a fertilized egg is not a person. It's a clump of cells. If you want to call it a potential person, then you have to call every egg and sperm cell a potential person, and there are certainly a lot of those that get trashed. Everyone is a mass murderer.

Really, I think religious fundamentalists should get their invasive laws, and then get an administration in office that doesn't share their views, so they see just how badly they themselves can get their lives invaded.

Quote:
You're making two disputable assumptions here, and another simple mistake: curative usefulness of embryonic stem cells is still far from being proven, and the actual range of its application still vague; and you are plainly ignoring immunity issues.
It's damn hard to get something proven, when government is working against it! So of course there's not much proven. There are plenty of scientists, however, who feel that there is potential to do a lot of good. In many ways, it mirrors adult stem cell research, since it was viewed the same AND allowed to be researched; as a result, there are now various treatments coming off the line.

I'll yield the "baby dies" argument, since ultimately that's a subjective viewpoint without much merit. See my "potential human" argument above.

And regarding immunological compatibility, that's something that will only be overcome by research... which is forbidden. It's a pretty cute setup, as you can ban research while saying "it's not proven and there are issues" but you only work past those issues with research.

Here's another fun mental exercise: If you believe those fertilized eggs are babies, then a pregnant woman should have to declare the newly conceived egg as a member of the family. Get tax credits for them, and the government then has the legal right to make sure the pregnant woman is taking care of her body and not subjecting the child to harm. After all, the egg is a citizen of the United States and subject to all the protections thereof. In-vitro should be outlawed because of all the children they destroy. If you can't have kids the natural way, then too bad.

After all, if we're gonna take this position, we have to follow it to its natural conclusion.
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Old 2010-09-10, 18:45   Link #24
Seitsuki
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Quote:
I'm sorry, but scientifically speaking, a fertilized egg is not a person. It's a clump of cells. If you want to call it a potential person, then you have to call every egg and sperm cell a potential person, and there are certainly a lot of those that get trashed. Everyone is a mass murderer.
Broadly speaking a person should at least have a full compliment of chromosomes. Sperm and eggs therefore, as gametes, hardly qualify as human as they do not have the same complete genetic code.

Quote:
And regarding immunological compatibility, that's something that will only be overcome by research... which is forbidden. It's a pretty cute setup, as you can ban research while saying "it's not proven and there are issues" but you only work past those issues with research.
This is pretty much the point: research is restricted based on the view that an embryo may be considered a person and therefore should have the same basic 'right to life' yet abortion and discarding of surplus embryos is common (although to be fair the people targeting embryonic stem cell research are targeting those areas are well.)

Quote:
Here's another fun mental exercise: If you believe those fertilized eggs are babies, then a pregnant woman should have to declare the newly conceived egg as a member of the family. Get tax credits for them, and the government then has the legal right to make sure the pregnant woman is taking care of her body and not subjecting the child to harm. After all, the egg is a citizen of the United States and subject to all the protections thereof. In-vitro should be outlawed because of all the children they destroy. If you can't have kids the natural way, then too bad.
And that's an example of why taking things to the logical conclusion is a bad idea kinda like the slippery slope between nationalism and communism. The whole of human civilisation has always been based on compromise: those that refuse to yield will eventually fall. However that does set the situation up for double standards, which will also lead to issues which need addressing- or at least glossing over for the 'greater good'. The problem only really arises when both sides feel *very*emotional on the subject, which one side obviously is and the other is debatable I guess.
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Old 2010-09-10, 20:53   Link #25
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Just a word on the immunologic issues surrounding embryos.

Immunologically speaking because a fertilized embryo is genetically distinct from the gestating mother due to the diploid status of the chromosomes from unifying half from the egg and half from the sperm, in theory an embryo is to be considered a distinct foreign body from that of the mother and thus immunologic self-tolerance no longer applies in this case.

I posted on page one one of the theories on how embryos manage to circumvent the immunologic response of a host. Medically speaking the same rules should apply even to that of a mother, especially so because the embryo is now a foreign and distinct entity, and by comparison it should even be harder for an embryo to implant itself and institute the formation of supportive blood vessels and anchorage into the placenta compared to simply grafting tissue on established sites. This is because the embryo secretes and promotes immunosupressive cytokines that lowers the mother's immunologic threshold and response on the implantation site, until the mother eventually tolerates the embryo and placenta and herself begins to support pregnancy.

The embryo has much less issues regarding immunologic compatibility by comparison to mature tissue grafting, which is why studies of immunologic compatibility isn't as much a problem. Even then, standard HLA typing procedures should suffice because every cell in the body, even stem cells, follow the standards of surface antigen presentation.

Back on topic again, I usually follow the medical definitions, so I believe that the embryo is considered a separate entity on the blastocyst implantation stage, which is about a week to 12 days after conception.
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Old 2010-09-11, 06:43   Link #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
Yes, I agree I'm simplifying on a few things, but the number of people who push for this, is a far, far smaller number. There are people who argue for anything, of course; the fringe groups. But I haven't seen any outrage on the news over invitro fertilization. Wherever I turn, it's mainly about abortion and the fear that babies will be farmed out.

So while I agree that I generalized a bit, there's merit in the statements because they are generally true. I grew up in a Christian church that was Pro-Life. They were absolutely for invitro fertilization, seeing nothing wrong with it as it was helping people. They were against abortion and embryonic stem cell research, though.
You haven't heard a lot about IVF simply because the debate was in the 80's and early 90's. Since then varying regulations were made on it, compromises reached, each differing between countries.

Also, remember that the US are pretty unique considering Christian Churches diversity, so yes you'll find quite a broad array of position on those issues among the lot.
Conversely, the most important Church worldwide, the Roman Catholic, is holding a precise stance against in vitro fertilization.

Quote:
You're strawmanning my position a bit. Yes, there are ethical concerns that should be considered with scientific fields, but in the context of Embryonic stem cell research, there shouldn't be anyway. Moral issues maybe, but not ethical. For the record, I am against GMOs, but that is not what this conversation is about.
GMO and IVF have in common that a large part of the ethical controversies around them is precisely about balancing promises of progress with perceived infringement on the mechanisms of life.

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I don't care if they oppose it, because each person has to make a decision: do they want the government mandating what you can and cannot do with regards to your health and your body? Or do you believe in individual liberties, where the government should not intervene unless there is direct harm to another living being?
This kind of controversy would rather belong to another thread on government.

Quote:
I'm sorry, but scientifically speaking, a fertilized egg is not a person. It's a clump of cells. If you want to call it a potential person, then you have to call every egg and sperm cell a potential person, and there are certainly a lot of those that get trashed. Everyone is a mass murderer.
Scientifically and medically speaking, it is an individual organism, different from a clump of cells or tumor. And there is clear scientific, medical and legal distinction between gametes and the result of their combination.

Quote:
Really, I think religious fundamentalists should get their invasive laws, and then get an administration in office that doesn't share their views, so they see just how badly they themselves can get their lives invaded.
Well, be happy then, because per definition the peoples you speak of are battling against changes in their environment which they see as perils for society.

Quote:
It's damn hard to get something proven, when government is working against it! So of course there's not much proven. There are plenty of scientists, however, who feel that there is potential to do a lot of good. In many ways, it mirrors adult stem cell research, since it was viewed the same AND allowed to be researched; as a result, there are now various treatments coming off the line.
I you look back at the controversy and history surrounding these fields, you'll find that adult stem cell research was favored precisely because it held similar promises, without being concerned by all the embryo related issues.

Quote:
I'll yield the "baby dies" argument, since ultimately that's a subjective viewpoint without much merit. See my "potential human" argument above.
Well no, logically, experimentally, scientifically and medically speaking, it dies, point. All you have are living cells, like in the chicken hearth tissue culture.

Quote:
And regarding immunological compatibility, that's something that will only be overcome by research... which is forbidden. It's a pretty cute setup, as you can ban research while saying "it's not proven and there are issues" but you only work past those issues with research.
Well, it is actually a situation characteristic of our post modern world, were absolute faith in progress is long gone, and where the Precautionary principle has been instituted.

Aside from that, it's simply another argument which favors the adult stem cells path, along with the aforementioned ethical advantages.

Quote:
Here's another fun mental exercise: If you believe those fertilized eggs are babies, then a pregnant woman should have to declare the newly conceived egg as a member of the family. Get tax credits for them, and the government then has the legal right to make sure the pregnant woman is taking care of her body and not subjecting the child to harm. After all, the egg is a citizen of the United States and subject to all the protections thereof. In-vitro should be outlawed because of all the children they destroy. If you can't have kids the natural way, then too bad.

After all, if we're gonna take this position, we have to follow it to its natural conclusion.
As I've said, there are peoples militating, or at least protesting in this sense. And again, this is more or less the stance of the Roman Catholic Church, not exactly a minor movement, regarding these things.

And your mental exercise is not exactly one, for we simply wouldn't legiferate on whatever happen before birth if many, many, peoples weren't considering them babies. In some places, killing a pregnant woman has for long been considered and trialed as a double homicide.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MeoTwister5 View Post
Just a word on the immunologic issues surrounding embryos.

Immunologically speaking because a fertilized embryo is genetically distinct from the gestating mother due to the diploid status of the chromosomes from unifying half from the egg and half from the sperm, in theory an embryo is to be considered a distinct foreign body from that of the mother and thus immunologic self-tolerance no longer applies in this case.

I posted on page one one of the theories on how embryos manage to circumvent the immunologic response of a host. Medically speaking the same rules should apply even to that of a mother, especially so because the embryo is now a foreign and distinct entity, and by comparison it should even be harder for an embryo to implant itself and institute the formation of supportive blood vessels and anchorage into the placenta compared to simply grafting tissue on established sites. This is because the embryo secretes and promotes immunosupressive cytokines that lowers the mother's immunologic threshold and response on the implantation site, until the mother eventually tolerates the embryo and placenta and herself begins to support pregnancy.

The embryo has much less issues regarding immunologic compatibility by comparison to mature tissue grafting, which is why studies of immunologic compatibility isn't as much a problem. Even then, standard HLA typing procedures should suffice because every cell in the body, even stem cells, follow the standards of surface antigen presentation.

Back on topic again, I usually follow the medical definitions, so I believe that the embryo is considered a separate entity on the blastocyst implantation stage, which is about a week to 12 days after conception.
Thanks for the medical definitions bouts.

My human biology is kinda rusty, so if I get it right, the embryo is actively suppressing an immune response from the mother? But how is this process timed and distributed?
For what I understand, this mechanism would work in the early stages. But later, as tissues specialize, isn't it the role of the placenta to act as a buffer?

But if we have to consider HLA compatibility, aren't we precisely back at square one, as with organ transplants? Hence the advantages of oneself adult stem cells, and the requirements for a wide range of embryonic stem cells lines, if not the need to customizing some?
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Old 2010-09-11, 09:46   Link #27
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Here's what I think - it is perfectly fine to take the position that the embryo constitutes a living thing and you don't want it to be killed for research. But if you're going to take that position, you better not ever swat a fly, or squash a mosquito. Because they sure as hell are living things too, and that stance does not seem to take complexity into account.
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Old 2010-09-11, 10:07   Link #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMvS View Post
My human biology is kinda rusty, so if I get it right, the embryo is actively suppressing an immune response from the mother? But how is this process timed and distributed?
For what I understand, this mechanism would work in the early stages. But later, as tissues specialize, isn't it the role of the placenta to act as a buffer?

But if we have to consider HLA compatibility, aren't we precisely back at square one, as with organ transplants? Hence the advantages of oneself adult stem cells, and the requirements for a wide range of embryonic stem cells lines, if not the need to customizing some?
Yeah that's basically the gist of it. I can't remember if it was the embryo or the mother that secretes the anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-10 I think, Biochem isn't my strong point), but essentially the immune cascade is suppressed until the placenta is in place to act as the buffer between the fetus and the mother. It reaches the point when the mother's immune system adapts to tolerate the fetus and begins to support it.

Stem cell implantation is still essentially the same as tissue grafting, so if the source is from a different person, human leukocyte antigen typing will always be a consideration. This is precisely why grafting from your own cells is ideal because of immune recognition and self tolerance: barring an abnormal autoimmune response, you won't reject your own tissue. This is perhaps the greatest advantage of post-fetal stem cell use.

We aren't exactly at square one because current organ transplantation requires mature organs for transplant. Stem cell grafting posits that the stem cells will automatically adjust and differentiate into the necessary tissue found at the anatomical site they're inserted in. This eliminates the need for specific organ transplants because, if the technique works, you can simply implant the stem cells anywhere they are needed and they will do the work of becoming the organ themselves.

This is where I find the general all purpose concept a bit tricky. Organogenesis within the fetus is controlled by chromosomal factors unique to gestation. In extrauterine life, because you're supposed to have complete organs, it becomes a function of tissue repair rather than pure organogenesis, which means that you don't have the absolute function to create new organs from stem cells. At best you can repair and regain organ mass as long as you still have some of the organ left in there; if you lose the entirety of the organ, it's essentially impossible to regain the organ itself. From this POV, stem cells alone being injected at the site won't work, in theory, if they aren't stimulated by local factors to become the needed organ if the organ itself is gone. As such, stem cells need a boost from a chemical "messenger" telling them to become what they are needed to be for them to work.

Like I said before, many people are jumping the gun on stem cell research. Whether or not stem cells really are a miracle cure, they will always have to follow the rules of biological systems.
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Old 2010-09-11, 16:01   Link #29
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Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
Here's what I think - it is perfectly fine to take the position that the embryo constitutes a living thing and you don't want it to be killed for research. But if you're going to take that position, you better not ever swat a fly, or squash a mosquito. Because they sure as hell are living things too, and that stance does not seem to take complexity into account.
Actually, people usually taking that position are "human prejudiced". They're concerned because its "human" which implies innate special rules about treatment according to their beliefs. The *government*... has the problem of deciding when something is a citizen or not and when something is human or not - before assigning which rules of treatment can be applied.

As we move into the sticky wicket of "I've shaved this morning and all those skin cells are potential people" ... positions will get even more bizarre.
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Old 2010-09-11, 21:19   Link #30
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Just tossing this link in here as it's somewhat relevant:

Using Wisdom Teeth for Stem Cells
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Old 2010-09-11, 21:50   Link #31
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The problem is that, stem cell implantation may not be as easy as it looks.

Adult stem cells are unipotent or multipotent (able to differentiate into a certain group of cell type) and are supposedly able to become pluripotent by adding a few sets of genes to it. How far is it going to work is not known because it has never been tested before in a practical scale, the induction of genes could be no different from encouraging cell mutation. Who knows, the worst case scenario would be that the cell could have incredible subdivision abilities and cancerous at the same time, able to reduce the patient into a genetic goo in a matter of seconds.

Engineering stem cells isn't hex-editing. It is much more complex that editing a byte pair to ff and generate 255 in value - and it is surprising many fail to realise that.
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Old 2010-09-12, 19:52   Link #32
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Scientifically and medically speaking, it is an individual organism, different from a clump of cells or tumor. And there is clear scientific, medical and legal distinction between gametes and the result of their combination.
Yes, its an organism, but it lacks complexity, it can't think, it can't feel. There isn't much difference between killing it than killing a mosquito. Actually, I would consider killing a mosquito worse than killing an embryo as the mosquito has a nervous system, though can't feel pain or think.
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