Interesting exerpt from a book about stem cells (see link below for full article - long and only a few MS references)
Stem Cell Research: Science and the Future
by Terry Gross - February 14, 2006 · Since 1998, when scientists isolated embryonic stem cells in a lab, questions over how -- and whether -- to use them have abounded. In Stem Cell Now, bioethics expert Christopher Thomas Scott explores the possibilities of what some consider the greatest discovery since nuclear fusion.
The book details what Scott calls a revolution in research, as the potential for freely available cells that can help repair or rebuild the human body is still being explored.
But while his main concern is the science behind stem-cell research, Scott also takes pains to describe the ethical and moral debate over how the advances are used. For many, embryonic stem cells are at the nexus of a political, religious and medical controversy.
If Scott's examination of stem-cell science helps to inform the ongoing debate, his look at possible treatments helps explain what is at stake. From reversing cancer to replacing damaged organs, much has been made of the generative aspect of stem cells. Stem Cell Now offers a sense of what is possible now, and what may come in the next decade.
Scott heads Stanford University's Program on Stem Cells and Society. He was also a founder and executive editor of the award-winning biotech journal Acumen. His writing has appeared in journals, including Science, Nature Biotechnology, and The Scientist.
Excerpt: Stem Cell Now
by Christopher Thomas Scott
Chapter 7 - The Future of Medicine
"I want things to happen quickly. I certainly want to benefit within my lifetime. I don't want to get out of this wheelchair at the age of 75. I am 51, and am now very healthy, and would like to be out of the chair very soon. I'm not willing to resign myself to being an advocate for research that will benefit people only after I'm gone. I'm not that noble."
Christopher Reeve (1952–2004), in a 2003 interview
In the face of hard statistics, one wonders how modern medicine can help so much suffering. By 2010, over 2 million Americans are projected to contract end-stage renal disease, at an aggregate cost of $1 trillion. In 2001, nearly 80,000 people needed organ transplants, fewer than 24,000 got them, and 6,000 died waiting. Of those receiving organs, 40 percent die within the first three years after surgery. One in five of our elders 65 years old or older will require temporary or permanent organ repair or replacement during their remaining years. In 2002, the prevalence of diabetes in the United States exceeded 18 million people -- 6.3 percent of the population. That year, total heathcare costs of diabetes surpassed $130 billion. Cancer kills one out of four of us, more than 1,500 people a day.
Even though we are living longer, many octogenarians are unable to appreciate their lengthy lives: nearly half of the people over age 85 have Alzheimer's disease. American lifestyles promote physical inactivity and overeating, causing morbid obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Add to this list crippling conditions such as spinal injury, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and a host of genetic and metabolic disorders.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... Id=5204335