The role of stem cells
Cell based therapy and in particular stem cells, is currently one of the fastest growing fields in regenerative medicine. Stem cells have the ability to develop — through a process called differentiation — into many different types of cells, such as skin cells, brain cells, lung cells and so on. Stem cells are a key component of regenerative medicine, as they open the door to new clinical applications.
Worldwide, Regenerative medicine research teams are studying a variety of stem cells, including adult and embryonic stem cells. Also being studied are various types of progenitor cells, such as those found in umbilical cord blood, and bioengineered cells called induced pluripotent stem cells.
Each type has unique qualities, with some being more versatile than others. Many of the regenerative therapies under development begin with the particular patient’s own cells. For example, a patient’s own skin cells may be collected, reprogrammed in a laboratory to give them certain characteristics, and delivered back to the patient to treat his or her disease.