Medical barriers to stem cell use being removed, one by one

Several key achievements reported recently show significant progress towards the ability to use stem cells to treat illnesses, such as the recent case in South Korea where researchers enabled Hwang Mi-Soon to walk again after 20 years of paralysis.

Stem cells are "generic", capable of becoming cells with several specific functions such as nervous system progenitor cells which are in turn able to create cells which make myelin which enables nerves to transmit sense information or commands to move muscle.

It is an extraordinary privilege to live in an age where so many medical advances improve the quality of our lives; I can only hope that these advances do not fall under patent protection which limits the supply and increases cost, and that the public courage, determination and generosity of sufferers like Christopher Reeve inspires open solutions that benefit all of us.

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