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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Daniel C. Brennan, MD (Washington University School of Medicine)
Description: This book contains selected proceedings from the Second International Sansum Symposium on Fetal Islet Transplantation that was held in October 1994 in honor of Dr. Paul Lacy, one of the preeminent investigators in islet transplantation.
Purpose: The book seeks to provide the foundation for anyone interested in the areas of fetal islet growth, differentiation, and immunology as well as transplantation. The objectives are laudable, although a separate chapter on the history or an expanded overview on fetal and islet cell transplantation in general would have gone a long way to providing a better foundation. However, such an overview was probably unnecessary for the participants of the symposium from which these selections were taken.
Audience: Although it is directly stated that the book is for anyone interested in the area of fetal islet transplantation, the nature of the symposia format determines that the audience will be those who are quite immersed in the field already.
Features: Only a cursory and one-sided discussion of the complex ethical issues involved in human fetal tissue research in general is presented. Understandably, the participants of the symposia would need little convincing for the utility or morality of this research. Thus, the book would not be useful to anyone to help clarify the fundamental ethical dilemmas of the use of human fetal tissue to ameliorate human disease.
Assessment: The selections provide a good introduction to the issue of fetal islet transplant research in particular and islet transplantation in general. The selections are brief, well written, and easy to read. The conclusions remain surprisingly optimistic despite the limited success after more than 25 years of research initiated in the early 1970s by Dr. Lacy.