The Stem Cell Challenge; June 2004; Scientific American Magazine; by Robert Lanza and Nadia Rosenthal, sidebar by Christine Soares; 8 Page(s)
Stem cells raise the prospect of regenerating failing body parts and curing diseases that have so far defied drug-based treatment. Patients are buoyed by reports of the cells' near-miraculous properties, but many of the most publicized scientific studies have subsequently been refuted, and other data have been distorted in debates over the propriety of deriving some of these cells from human embryos.
Provocative and conflicting claims have left the public (and most scientists) confused as to whether stem cell treatments are even medically feasible. If legal and funding restrictions in the U.S. and other countries were lifted immediately, could doctors start treating patients with stem cells the next day? Probably not. Many technical obstacles must be overcome and unanswered questions resolved before stem cells can safely fulfill their promise.