'' The title was a fanciful attention-getter for an optimistic thought: as science conquers disease and replaces worn-out organs, humans will be living much, much longer.Neuroscience will match biology's pace, enabling brains to regenerate so that humans can live productively even as we pass the century mark.
One day it may be possible to treat developmental defects by adjusting the switches that control differentiation.
Nuclear transfer (cloning), the technology used to produce Dolly the sheep, could also be used to produce stem cells with enhanced therapeutic potential.
A couple of suggestions: Start a race among scientists.
Finance both adult and embryonic stem-cell research equally and heavily.
The genius of our stem-cell genie bids fair to speed longevity's day.
The trick is for us to make certain we call the cadence on the march of progress.He should listen to the national academies of science and medicine, soon to go public with recommendations.He should then address a joint session of Congress with stem-cell budget policy and legislative proposals to stimulate thoughtful hearings and attract wide support.Launch this at a White House Conference on Genes; include enough dissidents to avert groupthink.Ask this commission to assess ''somatic cell nuclear transfer,'' in which the nucleus of an egg is activated with genetic material from the intended patient, creating cells to overcome the danger of rejection of foreign tissue. Ian Wilmot, Scotland's cloner of Dolly, is an informed opponent of human replication; he knows how many of his attempts to clone sheep failed, and believes similar attempts with humans would be horrifying.Many scientists counter that such deliberate delay risks millions of lives.The practical note that intrudes itself is the newly out-of-the-bottle nature of the genie.If cells from adults surprise scientists by creating the targeted regeneration, so much the less controversial; if not, no time or lives would be wasted.Couple this with a permanent, rotating advisory commission on bioethics, members appointed by Congress and the president, to recommend guidelines on all facets of genetic research, not just stem cells.Whether driven by private funds here or by the investment of public money by foreign governments, embryonic cells will be used to achieve breakthroughs to cures.The cells being used -- from embryos no bigger than the period that ends this sentence -- are not only frozen cells from fertility clinics destined to be discarded (the least objectionable to those who believe that life begins at the instant of conception).