Supporting Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Most of the cells in our bodies have a short life span and a specific job to do. Stem cells, found in many organs from skin to bone marrow, are different. The “ancestors” of ordinary cells, they can replenish themselves indefinitely. Given the right biochemical signals, these cells can divide and transform themselves into a range of different cell types as and when the need arises.
Such versatility means that stem cells have the potential to regenerate damaged organ tissues and provide amazing new treatments for a range of now devastating diseases. Indeed, stem cells may perhaps make it possible for humans to “grow new organs” to replace diseased ones, thereby providing for the possibility of new forms of cell-based therapies.
On the basis of research with comparable cells from mice, scientists envision that stem cells could be used to replace bone marrow in patients suffering from cancer, produce pancreatic cells for alleviating diabetes, or neuronal cells for treating Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and various brain and spinal cord disorders.