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More Miracles on the Way

It's another miracle! During the Easter season, we begin to think about miracles, but these days PEOPLE are doing them. As medical knowledge progresses, we will see more and more of them. Now scientists have figured out how to convert adult skin cells directly into beating heart cells, a miracle that could eliminate the long waiting list for heart transplants (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show).

As the human body develops, embryonic-like stem cells multiply and transform themselves into more mature cell types through a process known as differentiation, producing all of the body's different cell types and tissues. Past the embryonic stage, however, the human body has limited capacity to generate new cells to replace ones that have been lost or damaged. Scientists have been trying to develop ways to "reprogram" adult human cells back to a more embryonic-like state, from which they are able to divide and then change into any of the body's cell types. Using these techniques, scientists aim to someday be able to take a patient's own cells, such as skin cells, change them into heart or brain cells, and then insert them back into the patient to fix damaged tissues. Even in the recent past, this would definitely have been called a miracle (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show too, so why not subscribe today!)

There are all kinds of miracles: What about the ones that involve religion? After a major trauma, religiosity and spirituality independently predict people's health outcomes. For instance, in the 3 years following 9/11 (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show too), sociologists found that religious individuals (those who participated in religious social structures by attending services) had a did better, both mentally and physically, than those in the study who expressed no religious or spiritual proclivities. 



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