Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells found throughout the body that divide to replenish dying cells and regenerate damaged tissues. Research into adult stem cells has been fueled by their abilities to divide or self-renew indefinitely and generate all the cell types of the organ from which they originate — potentially regenerating the entire organ from a few cells. Unlike embryonic stem cells, the use of adult stem cells in research and therapy is not controversial because the production of adult stem cells does not require the destruction of an embryo. The rigorous definition of a stem cell requires that it possesses two properties: Self-renewal - the ability to go through numerous cycles of cell division while maintaining the undifferentiated state. Multipotency or multidifferentiative potential - the ability to generate progeny of several distinct cell types, for example both glial cells and neurons, opposed to unipotency - restriction to a single-cell type. Some researchers do not consider this property essential and believe that unipotent self-renewing stem cells can exist.
The Power of Stem Cells | California's Stem Cell Agency
Researchers hope that the transplanted stem cells will develop into new neurons that replace severed or lost nerve connections and restore at least some motor and sensory function. Two additional clinical trials at UCSD are testing stem cell—derived therapy for type-1 diabetes and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, the most common form of blood cancer. These three studies are significant in that they are among the first efforts in stem cell research to make the leap from laboratory to human clinical trials. While the number of patients involved in each study is small, researchers are optimistic that as these trials progress and additional trials are launched, a greater number of patients will be enrolled. UCSD reports that trials for heart failure, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and blindness are in planning stages. The study of stem cells offers great promise for better understanding basic mechanisms of human development, as well as the hope of harnessing these cells to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions. In , the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare now the Department of Health and Human Services placed a moratorium on federally funded research using live human embryos.
Stem cells have the potential to treat a wide range of diseases. Here, discover why these cells are such a powerful tool for treating disease—and what hurdles experts face before new therapies reach patients. How can stem cells treat disease?
Stem cells have tremendous promise to help us understand and treat a range of diseases, injuries and other health-related conditions. Their potential is evident in the use of blood stem cells to treat diseases of the blood, a therapy that has saved the lives of thousands of children with leukemia; and can be seen in the use of stem cells for tissue grafts to treat diseases or injury to the bone, skin and surface of the eye. Important clinical trials involving stem cells are underway for many other conditions and researchers continue to explore new avenues using stem cells in medicine. The information on this page is intended to help you understand both the potential and the limitations of stem cells at this point in time, and to help you spot some of the misinformation that is widely circulated by clinics offering unproven treatments.