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The Stem Cell Dilemma: The Scientific Breakthroughs, Ethical Concerns, Political Tensions, and Hope Surrounding Stem Cell Research [Paperback]

Leo Furcht , William Hoffman , Brock Reeve
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2011 1611453526 978-1611453522 Second Edition

Today’s scientists are showing us how stem cells create and repair the human body. Unlocking these secrets has become the new Holy Grail of biomedical research. But behind that search lies a sharp divide, one that has continued for years. Stem cells offer the hope of creating or repairing tissues lost to age, disease, and injury. Yet, because of this ability, stem cells also hold the potential to incite an international biological arms race.

The Stem Cell Dilemma illuminates everything you need to know about stem cells, and in this new edition the authors have included up-to-date information on scientific advances with iPS cells, clinical trials that are currently underway, hESC policy that is in the U.S. courts, stem cells and biodefense, developments at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and growing international competition, plus all the basics of what stem cells are and how they work.


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About the Author

William Hoffman has been a writer and editor in the University of Minnesota Medical School for over twenty-five years and has created a series of Web-based global bioscience maps that show how competition in science and business affects ethics, policymaking, and economic development. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Leo Furcht, MD, is Allan-Pardee professor and chairman of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. A former president of the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology, he holds several key patents in the stem cell field. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Brock Reeve is executive director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the brother of the late Christopher Reeve. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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By Stephen Pletko TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
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"Stem cells have the potential to provide new and more effective treatments for diabetes, heart disease, genetic diseases, neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and even cancer; to repair debilitating injuries, such as spinal cord damage; and restore lost function, such as our sense of sight, hearing, smell, and touch, even limbs lost in combat. Already they have enabled blind mice to see, paralyzed rats to walk, and monkeys suffering from severe Parkinson's disease to show dramatic improvement in their symptoms...

[Stem cells] could transform medicine and be an unprecedented humanitarian benefit."

The above extract comes from this fascinating book by Dr. Leo Furcht and William Hoffman. Furcht is professor and chairman of the Department of Lab Medicine and Pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical School (UMMS). Hoffman has been a writer and editor at UMMS for over twenty-five years.

What exactly are stem cells? They are "non-specialized cells that have the dual capacity to...self-renew and...to differentiate into more mature cells with specialized functions."

This book gives you an up-to-date, well-researched, and perhaps most importantly, an accessible account of stem cells. Not only are the science and scientific breakthroughs discussed but mentioned, as well, are the ethical concerns, political tensions, and just plain hope surrounding stem cell research. For a stem cell novice like me, I couldn't ask for a better resource.

What exactly is the "dilemma" mentioned in this book's title? As the above extract states, stem cells offer tremendous hope and even possible cure for a wide range of afflictions. However, many people are opposed to research using embryonic stem cells.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "[Each day we're exposing] the mystery of the stem cell, one of the uniquely generative and regenerative forces in the universe" Jan. 24 2012
By Stephen Pletko - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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"Stem cells have the potential to provide new and more effective treatments for diabetes, heart disease, genetic diseases, neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and even cancer; to repair debilitating injuries, such as spinal cord damage; and restore lost function, such as our sense of sight, hearing, smell, and touch, even limbs lost in combat. Already they have enabled blind mice to see, paralyzed rats to walk, and monkeys suffering from severe Parkinson's disease to show dramatic improvement in their symptoms...

[Stem cells] could transform medicine and be an unprecedented humanitarian benefit."

The above extract comes from this fascinating book by Dr. Leo Furcht and William Hoffman. Furcht is professor and chairman of the Department of Lab Medicine and Pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical School (UMMS). Hoffman has been a writer and editor at UMMS for over twenty-five years.

What exactly are stem cells? They are "non-specialized cells that have the dual capacity to...self-renew and...to differentiate into more mature cells with specialized functions."

This book gives you an up-to-date, well-researched, and perhaps most importantly, an accessible account of stem cells. Not only are the science and scientific breakthroughs discussed but mentioned, as well, are the ethical concerns, political tensions, and just plain hope surrounding stem cell research. For a stem cell novice like me, I couldn't ask for a better resource.

What exactly is the "dilemma" mentioned in this book's title? As the above extract states, stem cells offer tremendous hope and even possible cure for a wide range of afflictions. However, many people are opposed to research using embryonic stem cells. (There are, as this book points out, other types of stem cells.)

This book is also bluntly realistic. Brock Reeve, the executive director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (and brother of actor and stem cell advocate, the late Christopher Reeve) states in the forward he wrote for this book, the following:

"[D]espite the advances of the last few years, we are still far from fulfilling the promise of stem cell science, and no matter how promising that science may be, cures for the diseases that stem cells address are not around the corner."

(The above statement by Reeve applies to North America. As this book points out, "stem cell tourism" is now occurring where the power of hope of stem cell therapy has some patients seeking unproven stem cell treatment outside North America.)

To give you an idea of how fast this field is moving, the first edition of this book was published in 2008. This second edition was published just three years later!

There is an incredibly helpful glossary at the back of the book. The above definition of stem cells comes from this glossary. There is also an interesting "stem cell timeline", also at the back of the book. One of the more interesting events occurred in 2009:

"World's first human clinical trial of embryonic stem cell-based therapy is launched." (This was for patients with acute spinal cord injury.)

Near the center of the book are sixteen colour photographs. My favourite is the creation by Harvard Medical School researchers of a brain tissue-like neural network from stem cells.

Finally, I have a nerological condition called "cerebellar degeneration." This is a fancy way of saying that something is wrong with my cerebellum (which controls movement). Thus, I am interested in participating in clinical stem cell trials for cerebellar degeneration when they become available. If you have any information regarding this, please contact me. (You can find my e-mail address through my profile which can be accessed by clicking on my name above.) Alternatively, you can leave your information in the "comment" section found under my review. Thanks for your help.

In conclusion, stem cells have incredible healing potential and may be the only hope for millions of patients with debilitating medical conditions. The twenty-first century may well become the century of the...stem cell!!

(second edition published 2011; preface; foreword; prologue; 6 chapters; epilogue; main narrative 250 pages; glossary; timeline; bibliography; index)

<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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