The Proteus Effect: Stem Cells and Their Promise for Medicine

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Overview

Stem cells could be the key that unlocks cures to scores of diseases and illnesses. Their story is at once compelling, controversial, and remarkable. Part detective story, part medical history, The Proteus Effect recounts the events leading up to the discovery of stem cells and their incredible potential for the future of medicine.

What exactly are these biological wonders – these things called stem cells? They may be tiny, but their impact is earth shaking, generating ...

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Overview

Stem cells could be the key that unlocks cures to scores of diseases and illnesses. Their story is at once compelling, controversial, and remarkable. Part detective story, part medical history, The Proteus Effect recounts the events leading up to the discovery of stem cells and their incredible potential for the future of medicine.

What exactly are these biological wonders – these things called stem cells? They may be tiny, but their impact is earth shaking, generating excitement among medical researchers – and outright turmoil in political circles. They are reported to be nothing short of miraculous. But they have also incited fear and mistrust in many. Indeed, recent research on stem cells raises important questions as rapidly as it generates new discoveries.

The power of stem cells rests in their unspecialized but marvelously flexible nature. They are the clay of life waiting for the cellular signal that will coax them into taking on the shape of the beating cells of the heart muscle or the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. With a wave of our medical magic wand, it’s possible that stem cells could be used to effectively treat (even cure) diseases such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and even baldness.

But should scientists be allowed to pick apart four-day-old embryos in order to retrieve stem cells? And when stem cells whisper to us of immortality – they can divide and perpetuate new cells indefinitely – how do we respond? Stem cells are forcing us to not only reexamine how we define the beginning of life but how we come to terms with the end of life as well.

Meticulously researched, artfully balanced, and engagingly told, Ann Parson chronicles a scientific discovery in progress, exploring the ethical debates, describing the current research, and hinting of a spectacular new era in medicine. The Proteus Effect is as timely as it is riveting.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Stem cells could be the key to unlocking cures to scores of diseases and illnesses. Nevertheless, stem cell studies remain the most controversial field of scientific research today, provoking acrimonious charges and countercharges in the political arena. Science journalist Ann B. Parson goes to the root of the stem cell issue, charting the incremental progress of cellular research. The Proteus Effect explains the marvelously flexible nature of stem cells and describes its possible applications to diseases such as Parkinson's, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and even baldness.
Publishers Weekly
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.
Library Journal
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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780309089883
  • Publisher: National Academies Press
  • Publication date: 9/2/2004
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Plant or animal? 13
2 Mouse strain 129 25
3 The purple cell 47
4 Mystery in a dish 67
5 The embryo experiments 83
6 The canary's song 101
7 After the birth of Louise Brown 123
8 Monkeys to humans 133
9 Epic upon epic 155
10 Marrow to brain? 179
11 The art of cell replacement 205
12 After tomorrow 235
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2013

    The book The Proteus Effect by Ann Parson is a thrilling documen

    The book The Proteus Effect by Ann Parson is a thrilling documentation of different scientist nation-wide and their findings dealing with Stem Cell Research. Each chapter conveys a different story of how a new Stem Cell scientific finding was originally founded and what it was turned out to help cure. Stem Cell findings are a key in the Science for finding that can eventually become medical cures for diseases and sicknesses of all kinds. Each different report of a Stem Cell finding in this book is nothing short of a miracle, helping one way or another save a life, whether it is a human or an animal. The book overall doesn't portray a story with a climax like a normal book, the book is just many short stories of the same topic (Stem Cells). Wouldn't say it's a must read unless you have too, because the book contains large vocabulary and confusing scientific terminology that made it hard to understand.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2005

    A MUST READ!!

    Excellent work here. Well rounded and researched. Written for both the medical professionals as well as the lay readers. This is a fascinating topic as readers will find. A must read for all those with an interest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2004

    Timely, Informative, and Very Readable

    I have always wanted to know more about this subject but usually have a hard time getting through science books. Ann Parson however had me turning the pages. Proteus Effect is a very timely, informative, and readable book. A must read for everyone.

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