Nowadays, experimental cell restorative surgery in the human brain primarily uses human fetal tissues. Clearly it would have been desirable to circumvent the ethical problems related to the use of the remains of elected human abortions, which provide the only feasible source of neuronal grafts. Ethical guidance for the retrieval and use of the remains of human abortions has been developed to solve the issue, though for parts of society, in several countries, the use of human abortion tissue (as well as abortion itself) remains, and will continue to remain, controversial or even forbidden. Cell therapies based on cells obtained from adult donors, via self-donation, or on long term established laboratory cell lines ("implants from the shelf") would be an ideal alternative. Discoveries about the potencies of stem cells - cells that can clone themselves indefinitely and can start to grow and differentiate into any type of cell in the body by external clues - may perhaps make the latter possible, but it has re-activated the discussion on the ethical guidance for the retrieval of donor material from the clinic in a different way. Stem cells can be derived from abortion remains or from pre-implantation embryos (blastocysts), as well as from adult organs and umbilical cord blood. However, stem cells from the human blastocysts are, at present, the best pluripotent source material. The process of characterisation, isolation, purification, laboratory growth and differentiation of early and late age retrieved stem cells differs and is not completely understood even under "harnessed" laboratory control. Thus, one cannot claim that adult rather than early embryonic tissue has to be used as source for stem cells as opponents of the use of human prenatal stem cells do. Each source of tissue or cell retrieval must remain open for appropriate use for therapeutic purposes as each source of cells has its own particular set of ethical problems.
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Have you ever been envious of people who seem to have no end of clever ideas, who are able to think quickly in any situation, or who seem to have flawless memories? Could it be that they're just born smarter or quicker than the rest of us? Or are there some secrets that they might know that we don't?