Medicine's Holy Grail
Stem cells are the most seductive area of scientific research today, holding out hope for cures to Alzheimer's and heart disease, and a fountain of youth. Flick on the TV or open a newspaper on any given day and there they are, centre stage. CAROLYN ABRAHAM tells you everything you wanted to know about these cellular magicians but were afraid to ask
Saturday, August 18, 2001
Few other areas of science have generated as much excitement, scrutiny and controversy as stem cells. They were uncovered in a Toronto lab half a century ago, and now scientists around the globe are pursuing them for their potential to regenerate body parts and revolutionize medicine.
These cellular magicians have captivated the public imagination. But because human embryos are destroyed to extract the most powerful stem cells, they have also been swept into the abortion debate.
Legislation is just beginning to catch up with science. Canada has a law pending that would govern research into embryonic stem cells. Just last week, U.S. President George W. Bush set strict limits on the work publicly funded scientists can conduct in the area.
But stem cells go way back and this is their story - from the decades of science behind them and the roots of the current controversy, to the mind-boggling medical feats the future might hold.
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