Stem Cell Biology: The Road to the Clinic
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Adult stem cells have been used for decades in bone marrow transplants
to treat a variety of malignant diseases. Adult stem cells, by
definition, undergo proliferative senescence (aging) and have limited
efficiency for generating multiple different kinds of daughter cells
when compared to human embryonic stem cells. Human embryonic stem
cells do not undergo proliferative senescence (a major advantage for
expansion in the lab) but are difficult to work with, and research
with these cells is subject to federal funding restrictions.
Recently, new isolation methods for human embryonic stem cells
including reprogramming of adult cells, parthenogenetic derivation
using eggs, and nuclear transfer have yielded human embryonic stem
cells for research, without destruction of an embryo. Despite the
enormous challenge of controlling human embryonic stem cells, clinical
trials with human embryonic stem cell-derived cell therapies for a
variety of chronic disease processes are likely to begin this year.
The anticipated application of these cells in the clinic is an
enormous advance for stem cell biology, likely to shift the focus of
interest from controversies over derivation of the cells to the ethics
of access and applicability of novel cell therapies.
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