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Stem Cells: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 23 Feb 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (23 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199603383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199603381
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1 x 11.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

I would recommend this clearly written book to everyone. (Simon McGurk, Nursing Standard)

About the Author

Jonathan Slack is Director of the Stem Cell Institute at the University of Minnesota, USA, and also holds the Tulloch Chair of Stem Cell Biology. His recent research has focused on the mechanisms of regeneration of missing parts, and on methods for inducing the transformation of one tissue type into another by overexpression of specific genes. He has a particular interest in attempting to reprogram other tissue types into pancreatic beta cells, which could be used for the treatment of some types of diabetes. He has published over 180 research and review papers in scientific journals, and has also written three books, including Essential Developmental Biology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005), an undergraduate textbook.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book demystifies the science of stem cells. A stem cell is a cell that can both reproduce itself and generate offspring of different functional cell types. The most famous stem cell is the human embryonic stem cell (ES cell); they come from cells within the early embryo and can probably produce all cell types under suitable circumstances for cell therapy. However, many scientists argue that the importance of ES cells is not cell therapy, but rather in studying embryonic development or screening drugs for safety.

Because of ethical issue with human ES cells, the recently discovered induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) may probably replace ES cells for cell therapy in the future. iPS cells are very similar to ES cells and are made by introducing a few specific genes into normal cells; in particular, white blood cells can serve as a starting material. Many patient-specific iPS lines have already been made; any differentiated cells made from it will be a perfect immunological match to the donor and can potentiallhy be grafted back without the use of immunosuppressive drugs.

Transplantation of bone marrow is the most important type of stem cell therapy in current practice. The clinical trials of cell therapy for spinal injury and macular degeneration have already started. The new technology of stem cell biology has great potential as a regenerative medicine which includes gene therapy and tissue engineering!
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Format: Paperback
We begin with the basic question of 'what is a stem cell?' To answer this we get a crash course in terminology. It's worth paying attention here as most of the book is written with fluent use of this. Though, as a mathematician, one might expect me to complain that biology is often the science of obfuscation by making up complicated words for relatively simple things! Thankfully, a useful glossary is provided at the back of the book. At times, one is forced to turn to this 2-3 times per sentence so that even though this is a short introduction at a little over 110 pages, one has read some parts several times over before the linguistic spaghetti is unravelled to render a paragraph comprehensible.

Slack defines a stem cell not by any inherent characteristic, but by the potential of what it does. He is also keen to stress that stem cells do not occur naturally in the body but are instead derived from cells that do occur naturally.

It is the natural step to look then in detail at the kind of stem cells most people have heard of, embryonic stem cells. Slack goes into some detail about basic cell biology and how embryonic stem cells are created and cultivated.

From here, he looks at the next class of stem cells, which he refers to as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). These are better known as adult stem cells though Slack expresses some disdain for the term. He gives a brief guide over how they are produced, though in so doing he throws around the names of various proteins and enzymes without much detail.

The question then is, what can be done with them? This is the realm where stem cells tend to make the news as though they were some kind of miracle cure. They're not.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent introduction to the use and benefits to be had from Stem Cell treatment. However, I feel that - a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of cell biology is required - which I don't have - to have enjoyed it more, and to appreciate it's full message more.
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