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Annarosa Leri, Piero Anversa, William H. Frishman, editors.
Cardiovascular Regeneration and Stem Cell Therapy.
2007. Blackwell Publishing: Malden, MA. ISBN: (Hardcover) 978-1405148429. US $146.95 229 p
Cardiovascular Regeneration and Stem Cell Therapy is a collection of journal-like articles compiled and edited by Annarosa Leri, Piero Anversa, and William Frishman. The book is a good compilation of current knowledge regarding the field of cardiac regeneration and stem cell therapy, but is clearly intended for an audience already familiar with the terminology. The text would make an appropriate reference or primer for both researchers and medical practitioners. The book, however, must be read with caution: The editors are confident that stem cells will become the treatment of choice for heart failure, and the only question that remains is whether to use bone marrow or cardiac-derived stem cells. They fail to adequately acknowledge the possible limitations of stem cell therapies and to objectively discuss the merits of competing techniques.
The book is broken into five parts, each consisting of several chapters. Each part attempts to convince the reader of some component of the editors’ doctrine, such as the plasticity of stem cells, the inherent regenerative capacity of the heart, and the bright prospects of stem cell therapy. The clear bias on the part of the editors is, however, greatly ameliorated by the quality of each individual chapter. The chapters flow from one to the other more cleanly than is usually the case with compilations, and each successive author builds on ideas and terms introduced in previous chapters. Of particular note is Part IV (Cardiac Progenitor Cells and Heart Failure), which follows a neatly logical progression starting with a focus on basic biological research, moving into clinical research and trials, and finishing with an historical analysis of clinical approaches and disease prognoses given scientists’ increasing knowledge of risk factors.
The authors lay out the risks and drawbacks to stem cell-based approaches, along with a wealth of encouraging research. The chapters depend on both original research results and summaries of the current state of the field. The authors rarely ask the reader to take their conclusions on faith. Indeed, the best part of the book is the extensive use of diagrams, illustrations, and color images that help all readers get the gist of what’s going on. While some authors grow a little too dependent on clip art, the goal of all these diagrams — understanding — is universally achieved. Furthermore, the prose is clear and easy to understand.
The editors conclude the book with a final effort at defaming stem cells’ detractors and provide four options for cardiovascular regeneration: the use of embryonic stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells (derived from bone marrow), endothelial progenitor cells, or cardiac stem cells. Options other than stem cells are once again ignored, and any possible doubts regarding the ultimate success of stem cell therapy are not allowed to intrude. This provides an optimistic, if somewhat ostrich-like, conclusion to a satisfying collection.