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Versatile Cells Against Intractable Diseases

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Science  26 Jul 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5581, pp. 500-502
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5581.500

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If popular accounts are to be believed, stem cells hold cures for a variety of ailments, chief among them neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. But in reality, scientists say, the closest treatments are years away, and some will take decades. Nonetheless, two recent developments--the cultivation of human embryonic stem cells and the discovery of hitherto unsuspected plasticity in the human nervous system--have sparked a plethora of new investigations into the possibility of using stem or stemlike cells to treat these devastating conditions.

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