Stem Cell Now: A Brief Introduction to the Coming of Medical Revolution

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Penguin, Aug 29, 2006 - Science - 272 pages
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THE STEM CELL IS SET TO DOMINATE POPULAR AWARENESS OF SCIENCE LIKE THE ATOM BOMB DID A GENERATION AGO. No area of science holds such immediate promise for treating disease and improving human lives as stem cell research. But no area of science also causes such fundamental ethical concern and such ferocious political conflict.

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Stem cell now: from the experiment that shook the world to the new politics of life

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Journalist Scott outlines the many types of stem cells and how they hold promise for biomedical applications, particularly for people with Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries, and other conditions with ... Read full review

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Over the past decade or so stem cells have become a household term. Most of this is based on the significance that these cells have in building and repairing of the living tissues. Consequently, it is believed and hoped that the mastery over these cells will give us an unprecedented access to new therapeutical techniques and it would advance medicine by an unprecedented amount. However, the use of stem cells, particularly those that are derived from embryos, is fraught with serious ethical challenges. Unfortunately, most of the debate and issues that are raised are not readily accessible, because the sheer number and variety of terms, concepts and ideas can be overwhelming and subtle differences can have major consequences, both biologically and ethically. In light of that, a good introductory book to the topic of stem cells is invaluable and "Stem Cell Now" fits that task perfectly. It is supremely informative without getting overwhelming with technical jargon, and it's accessible and eminently readable. Its primary purpose is to describe the science behind the stem cells, what we in fact know about them, and in this respect it is a valuable resource. The book, however, does not shy from advocacy and Christopher Scott is a clear proponent of lifting most serious restrictions on the use of stem cells in research in the United States. On the other hand he is not dogmatic about his positions and he recognizes that there is a serious ongoing debate on the subject. He presents the opposing viewpoints as well without deriding them or being condescending, and the reader is free to form his or her opinion, or to seek out further information on the subject.
One danger of writing a book on a very active ongoing field of research is that new discoveries are made almost daily, and some major new breakthroughs have come about since this book came out of print (like successfully inducing human adult somatic cells to become stem cells.) However, the body of knowledge and the scientific understanding that has been presented in this book has already had a pretty long shelf life and it will continue to be a valuable resource and a good first introduction to stem cells for years to come.


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About the author (2006)

CHRISTOPHER SCOTT is executive director of the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics Program in Stem Cells and Society. He has appeared on national radio and television, and has written for major newspapers and journals such as Science, Nature Biotechnology, and The Scientist.

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