spacer Dylan's Journey: A little boy's quest for sight and mobility

Stem cells are cells found in most, if not all, multi-cellular organisms. They are characterized by the ability to renew themselves through mitotic cell division and differentiating into a diverse range of specialized cell types.  For more information on Stem Cells, please visit http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/defaultpage.asp.

The practical definition of a stem cell is the functional definition - the ability to regenerate tissue over a lifetime  

The term adult stem cell refers to any cell which is found in a developed organism that has two properties: the ability to divide and create another cell like itself and also divide and create a cell more differentiated than itself. Stem cells obtained from the cord blood at the live birth of an infant are considered adult stem cells.

Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. It serves as a sort of repair system for the body, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still living. When a stem cell divides, each new cell can potentially either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.

Adult stem cell treatments have been successfully used for many years to treat leukemia and related bone/blood cancers through bone marrow transplants. Adult stem cells are also used in veterinary medicine to treat tendon and ligament injuries in horses.[23] The use of adult stem cells in research and therapy is not as controversial as embryonic stem cells, because the production of adult stem cells does not require the destruction of an embryo. Additionally, because in some instances adult stem cells can be obtained from the intended recipient, (an autograft) the risk of rejection is essentially non-existent in these situations. Consequently, more US government funding is being provided for adult stem cell research.

Medical researchers believe that stem cell therapy has the potential to dramatically change the treatment of human disease. A number of adult stem cell therapies already exist, particularly bone marrow transplants that are used to treat leukemia. In the future, medical researchers anticipate being able to use technologies derived from stem cell research to treat a wider variety of diseases including cancer, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and muscle damage, amongst a number of other impairments and conditions. However, there still exists a great deal of social and scientific uncertainty surrounding stem cell research, which could possibly be overcome through public debate and future research, and further education of the public.

bottom border
copyright 2009. Help for Dylan. all rights reserved