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This chapter is from the book

A Glimpse of What Lies Ahead

What are stem cells? Can they cure diabetes or make a new heart? What is the scientific controversy that swirls around embryonic and adult stem cells? Which stem cell discoveries will develop into actual therapies? Which diseases will benefit, and how long will it take? If we aggressively pursue embryonic stem cell research, will human clones be far behind? Do we destroy a human being when we use an embryo for research?

The pages ahead provide the biological and scientific basics needed to explore the most recent advances and therapeutic applications of human stem cells. But a glimpse into biology and medicine provides only part of the answers. No area of science is so deeply interwoven with ethical concern. The final chapters cover the moral and political dimensions that, along with their medical promise, make stem cells front-page news. It is difficult to find a biologist who will say that stem cells alone hold the key to solving our most intractable diseases. But it is safe to say that no single area of biomedicine holds such great promise for improving human health.

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