Current Science of Regenerative Medicine with Stem Cells.

Author:Prentice, David A.

54 J. INVESTIGATIVE MED. 33 (2006).

Regenerative medicine holds great hope for millions of patients with degenerative diseases and injuries. Repair of damaged organs and tissues using stem cells could potentially address the needs of these patients, encompassing the fifteen leading causes of death in the United States. A stem cell has two chief characteristics: (1) it continues to proliferate so that a pool of cells is always available; and (2) it responds to appropriate signals by differentiating into one or more specialized cell types. Numerous sources of stem cells exist, including those from early embryos, fetal tissues, umbilical cord blood and matrix, placental tissues, and most or all body tissues. Postnatal sources are called "adult stem cells."

Embryonic stem (ES) cells are considered the archetypal pluripotent stem cell; they proliferate extensively in culture and, based on their normal function during development, have the potential to form any tissue. Although this potential is attractive for treatment of degenerative disease, the results to this point have been modest, and there are still many hurdles to overcome before ES cells might be used clinically, including generation of functional differentiated cells, tumor...

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