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Thread: Building stem cell-based cures brick by brick

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    Building stem cell-based cures brick by brick

    Monday, April 18, 2011
    Building stem cell-based cures brick by brick

    There's an image I love in an interview with Northwestern University stem cell scientist John Kessler. He is a neurologist who turned to stem cell science after skiing accident left his daughter with a spinal cord injury.

    In the Q&A, Kessler has this to say about how science progresses:

    I often use this analogy: science is like building a building. You can’t just say you want a 50-story building and then start building the 50th floor first. It doesn’t work that way. Your goal is to get to that 50th story, but you have to build brick by brick. Then others can come along and start building on top of that brick. That’s how science works. I believe this will be one of those bricks that gets people closer to that goal. The beauty of science is once you put a brick in place, it’s there forever.
    I think that's a terrific way of looking at how science progresses. There's much ballyhoo these days about which types of stem cells are best, with those opposing the use of embryonic stem cells saying that so far those cells have produced no cures. This is true, but there was a time when you could say that construction workers had yet to build a complete skyscraper yet now they are commonplace.

    The building image also works when you think about how the branches of stem cell science intertwine. Lessons learned on the embryonic stem cell building directly resulted in science that led to reprogrammed iPS cells. Those iPS cells are now producing fascinating insights into how disease conditions play out in individual cells. The same is true for adult stem cell and cancer stem cell research, all of which benefit from and contribute to embryonic stem cell progress.

    Last edited by manouli; 04-18-2011 at 09:45 PM.

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