Stem Cells - biological update and cell therapy progress
In recent years, the advances in stem cell research have suggested that the human body may have a higher plasticity than it was originally expected.
Until now, four categories of stem cells were isolated and cultured in vivo: embryonic stem cells, fetal stem cells, adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs).
Although multiple studies were published, several issues concerning the stem cells are still debated, such as: the molecular mechanisms of differentiation, the methods to prevent teratoma formation or the ethical and religious issues regarding especially the embryonic stem cell research.
The direct differentiation of stem cells into specialized cells: cardiac myocytes, neural cells, pancreatic islets cells, may represent an option in treating incurable diseases such as: neurodegenerative diseases, type I diabetes, hematologic or cardiac diseases.
Nevertheless, stem cell-based therapies, based on stem cell transplantation, remain mainly at the experimental stages and their major limitation is the development of teratoma and cancer after transplantation. The induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) represent a prime candidate for future cell therapy research because of their significant self-renewal and differentiation potential and the lack of ethical issues.
This article presents an overview of the biological advances in the study of stem cells and the current progress made in the field of regenerative medicine.
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