- Stem cells are the basic building blocks of our bodies. They have the unique ability to turn into cells that make up our tissues, bones and organs. Stem cells have the potential to replace cell tissue that has been damaged or destroyed by illness or injury, as well as to provide scientists with a safe, convenient way to test drugs and understand how and why different diseases develop.
- The National Academy of Sciences, the leading science organization that advises the federal government on science policy, and the National Institutes of Health, the agency that reviews and funds the majority of biomedical science in the US, describe stem cells as the internal “repair system” for the body.
- Regenerative medicine focuses on a continuum of stem cell types:
- Adult stem cells are “mature” cells that are already committed, or programmed, to become a specific type of cell, such as a blood cell, and can form or repair damaged cells within that cell family.
- Stem cells from umbilical cord blood and wisdom teeth are also “adult” or “mature” cells. These stem cells may have the ability to become a wider range of cell types than other adult stem cells.
- Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells are reprogrammed adult skin cells that resemble embryonic stem cells, and may or may not be equivalent to embryonic stem cells.
- Embryonic Stem Cells are primitive or “early” cells that have not yet been committed, or programmed to become any particular type of cell. Early, or embryonic, stem cells have the potential to become any cell type of the human body and therefore have the potential to replace any cell damaged by disease or injury.
- Stem Cell Research has the potential to cure over 130 million Americans plagued by chronic, degenerative diseases and conditions.
|Stem cell research including embryonic forms, “is of great importance and will produce and provide the knowledge that will be useful to society and hopefully will cure a whole array of diseases for which we have no cures at the present time.”
Dr. Michael DeBakey
|“Science works best when scientists can pursue all avenues of research. If the cure for Parkinson’s disease or juvenile diabetes lay behind one of four doors, wouldn’t you want the option to open all four doors at once instead of one door?”
Chair of the National Institutes of Health Stem Cell Taskforce
Director, National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, National Institutes of Health
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