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[IP] stem cells


    Stems cells are cells which are most often found in the umbilical cord (as
well as other fetal tissue) which have not 'differentiated' into the cells
that they will be when we are born or become 'fully cooked'.  Bone marrow is
an example of a stem cell that has taken one step toward differentiation but
has stopped at that level.  From the bone marrow stem cells come generations
of Red Blood Cells over the course of our lives.
    The thing that is unique about fetal stem cells is that if they are placed
in certain tissues -- like the brain, or the pancreas -- it is believed that
they will begin to develop into the type of cells that surround them.  With a
little genetic engineering, it is further believed that science can control
the direction of the development in order to someday produce functional beta
cells for diabetics or dopamine producing cells for folks with Parkinson's
disease.  Unfortunately, that may still be a long way off.
Sean L. Finnerty, MS II

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