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The Proteus Effect


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Table of Contents

1 Front Matter; 2 Introduction; 3 1 Plant or Animal?; 4 2 Mouse Strain 129; 5 3 The Purple Cell; 6 4 Mystery in a Dish; 7 5 The Embryo Experiments; 8 6 The Canary's Song; 9 7 After the Birth of Louise Brown; 10 8 Monkeys to Humans; 11 9 Epic upon Epic; 12 10 Marrow to Brain?; 13 11 The Art of Cell Replacement; 14 12 After Tomorrow; 15 Notes; 16 Glossary; 17 Acknowledgments; 18 Index

About the Author

Ann B. Parson


Arguably the most exciting, promising and controversial medical research being performed today explores the potential of stem cells, unique cells that, when dividing, can produce either more cells like themselves or other specialized cells, such as heart cells, skin cells and neurons. Since President Bush's highly publicized excursion into bioethics in the summer of 2001, when he limited government funding of stem-cell research, stem cells have been thrust into the public consciousness, bringing the promise of regenerative medicine and miracle cures for such conditions as multiple sclerosis, blindness, heart damage and male pattern baldness. Though most of what's written on the science and ethics of stem-cell research focuses on the cutting edge, in this study, science journalist Parson takes us through its history, ranging from 18th-century natural philosophers' discovery of seemingly immortal organisms to the exploration, two centuries later, of curious mouse tumors, called teratomas, that may unlock the secrets of the human embryo. If anything, the book is too thorough, and the never-ending succession of new scientists and new breakthroughs means that few, if any, stick in the reader's mind as particularly memorable. The real focus is the scientific process itself, with its incremental and distributed march forward. While not for the casual reader, this book will satisfy those looking to immerse themselves in the finer points of stem-cell history. Agent, Doe Coover. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"The first convincing evidence that failing hearts can be repaired using bone marrow stem cells has been produced by a clinical trial, it was revealed yesterday. U.S. scientists compared two groups of heart bypass patients, with patients in one group treated with stem cells taken from their own hip bones. Six months later the hearts of the stem cell group were pumping out more blood than those of patients who had bypass surgery alone."

In this engaging and well-researched account of stem-cell research, science journalist Parson (coauthor, Decoding Darkness: The Search for the Genetic Causes of Alzheimer's Disease) describes the history of regeneration, embryology, and developmental biology research. She recounts how the search for stem cells in animals eventually led to embryonic and fetal stem-cell research, which in turn brought up the myriad ethical and political problems. Parson is sympathetic to the dilemmas faced by researchers who want to study stem cells for developmental and medical reasons. While human trials are still not conclusive, Parson discusses possible medical uses for stem cell: cures for Parkinson's disease, juvenile onset diabetes, muscular dystrophy, heart disease, and many other conditions. Most current books on stem-cell research are technical, somewhat biased, or told from one point of view. Parson has presented a fair, well-rounded view of the subject. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Margaret Henderson, formerly with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Lib., NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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