Recommending "Merchants of Immortality"

The Merchant of Venus at Blogspot recommends "Merchants of Immortality" by Stephen Hall:

Merchants' turned out to be a sober and somewhat sobering history of the field of "regenerative medicine", ably and earnestly undertaken by a professional journalist of science.

Hall's history neatly sums up the major issues, both scientific and ethical: fetal tissue research, telomeres, embryonic and adult stem cells, animal and human cloning, and of course, the possible social effects of a radically extended life expectancy. At the same time, he introduces you to the major players--the entrepeneurs, biologists, medical researchers, politicians and philosophers whose names you'll see almost every day in the news lately, if you're paying attention.

This book answered a lot of questions I had about the bioethics of stem cell research and has definitely helped shape my politics regarding the question. However, it may be a higher compliment to say that Merchants' has re-shaped several of my personal interests. First, I have to say that my enthusiasm for telomere applications has been largely muted (I'm afraid I was a victim of the late-90's Geron hype here), but on the other hand, I was thoroughly intrigued by what I read about nuclear transfer cloning and stem cell research, and I'll be following these topics closely in the future.

I second the recommendation. If you want to see where scientists and the wider biomedical community are on the road to developing a cure for aging, this book is a good start.

Glenn Reynolds is currently reading a more recent book entitled "The Fountain of Youth: Cultural, Scientific, and Ethical Perspectives on a Biomedical Goal", a collection of essays from both pro- and anti-life extension camps.

It's a collection of very interesting essays on the topic of longevity, from a wide variety of perspectives (both Aubrey de Grey and Leon Kass are represented, which says it all).

There are a range of books on this topic that are worth looking at (and I mentioned a few in the Longevity Meme newsletter a little while back), with more coming out this year it seems. I'm all for that: the more the merrier.

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