|THE LIVING CELL|
A look at the world of the cell
with Boyce Rensberger
May 16, 1997
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in this forum:
Are cancer cells "anarchists" in the body "republic?" Will human organs ever be genetically engineered? What makes humans different from chimpanzees? Will cloning lead to the lose of human individuality? Why hasn't the abortion debate included new information on how human life develops? Where will the most exciting advances in biology come from in the next century?
David Gergen discusses the cellular world with Boyce Rensberger, author of "Life Itself: Exploring The Realm of the Living Cell."
April 24, 1997:
Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks with the doctor who helped a 63-year-old woman become a mother.
March 5, 1997:
The annoucement of Dolly, the cloned sheep, was stunning, but what does cloning mean for society?
February 24, 1997:
Analysis of the revelation that Scottish scientists had cloned a sheep.
January 1, 1997:
Paul Solman reviews the year in genetics.
Browse the NewsHour's index of science coverage.
And, finally, The Online NewsHour's editors ask:
The '80s and '90s have been viewed as a golden age for molecular biology and biochemistry. Where do you see the most exciting advances in biology coming from in the next century?
Boyce Rensberger responds:
From the intersection of molecular biology and cell biology. I think we'll learn a lot more about how genes interact with cells (and with signals coming from beyond the cell and even beyond the organism) to do their normal work.
Specifically, I think we'll see:
You asked about advances in the next century. These forecasts apply to the next 25 years. I would not hazard a guess further into the future.
- gene therapy routine for many diseases.
- the ability to regenerate lost or damaged tissues, such as skin, kidney, blood vessels, and even teeth.
- cancer treatment is likely to become much more successful, with more cases being completely cured.
- it will be possible to prevent many congenital diseases through prenatal diagnosis at early-enough stages of pregnancy that abortion will be acceptable to more people.
- We may even see the ability to clone humans-- not to produce a whole new person but just to produce a new kidney or liver or heart for transplantation. (This would combine the techniques of cloning with those of tissue engineering.)
- Outside the medical area, we'll see the ability to produce many kinds of food and fiber in the equivalent of brewers' fermenting vats. In other words, instead of growing potatoes in the ground, potatoish matter (think of it as mashed potatoes) will come out of vats of cultured potato cells. (No doubt, McDonald's could mold it into fries.) Instead of growing cotton in pesticide-drenched fields, cotton cells will grow the fibers in vats of liquified nutrient.