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A Paradigm Shift in Stem Cell Research?

Photo: E.D. Laywell, UT MemphisMultipotent clones of cells derived from the adult human brain With the promises and challenges of stem cell research in the headlines, visions of artificial livers dance in the public's eye. Bioethicists, politicians, and citizens alike continue to debate whether public funds should be used to obtain cells from human embryos and fetuses. On the scientific front, however, the implications of stem cell research are even more profound than offering replacement parts.

Ricki Lewis

Photo: E.D. Laywell, UT Memphis

Multipotent clones of cells derived from the adult human brain
With the promises and challenges of stem cell research in the headlines, visions of artificial livers dance in the public's eye. Bioethicists, politicians, and citizens alike continue to debate whether public funds should be used to obtain cells from human embryos and fetuses. On the scientific front, however, the implications of stem cell research are even more profound than offering replacement parts. Recent findings reveal that a true paradigm shift may be in the works.

A paradigm shift occurs as exceptions, often startling ones, accumulate to the point that scientists need to sit back and reevaluate prevailing theories. In outlining the criteria for a paradigm shift in 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote, "Such changes, together with the controversies that almost always accompany them, are the defining characteristics of scientific revolutions."1

Stem cell research is upsetting...

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