The discovery of stem cells is one of the most significant events in the history of twentieth-century biology and biomedicine. Stem cells are characterized by their ability to become any of the normal types of tissue and cells in the body, and they hold promise in a wide array of treatments, from regenerating spinal cord to curing diabetes. At the same time a stem cell is capable of making an immense number of its identical copies. They can continuer to divide almost indefinitely. Stem cells are found in all multicellular organisms. In a developing embryo, stem cells are pluripotent and differentiate into almost all the specialized cells, the body is composed of. In adult organisms, stem cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing and restoring tissues.
The promise of stem cell research. ©2008 Terese Winslow
Scientists have always been trying to use these unique properties of stem cells for the purposes of their medical application. Nowadays it is becoming more and more feasible. We know about where to find stem cells, how to derive stem cells, cultivate them and control the processes of their differentiation in the laboratory, even how to turn ordinary cells back into stem cells. A number of diseases were successfully treated by the stem cells technologies, different tissues and organs for transplantation were grown from stem cells. We can use both own and allogenic stem cells and store them in special banks. In 2007 and in 2012 the Nobel Prizes were awarded for stem cell researches.
Strategies presently under development include transplants of stem cells, the manipulation of the patient's own stem cells, and the use of scaffold materials that emit biochemical signals to spur stem cells into action. Regenerative therapies have been demonstrated (in trials or the laboratory) to heal broken bones, bad burns, blindness, deafness, heart damage, nerve damage, Parkinson's disease, and a range of other conditions.
The present situation is that stem cell technologies are not just having good prospects; they are really applicable in practical medicine. The studies in the field have a long-term history, the properties of stem cells are carefully examined, and risks of their application are controlled. Scientists have accumulated broad experience of pilot researches. Stem cells are widely applied in clinical practice today. And there are really very good results in treatment of a number of diseases. Stem cells technologies are combined almost with all traditional methods of treatment and strengthen considerably their therapeutic effect. Moreover, there are very good prospects of further medical application of stem cells, which are based on in-depth laboratory researches.
Regenerative and substitutive therapies are important branches of the modern medicine. It is obvious, that advanced specialists just can’t stay apart from the stem cells technologies, or otherwise they risk getting outdated.