Date Published: December 22, 2003
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Partial Text: While the controversy surrounding the ethics of stem cell research shows no signs of abating, scientists continue to demonstrate the promise of stem cell–derived therapies for a wide range of degenerative diseases. The hope is that stem cells, which retain a unique “pluripotent” ability to morph into any of the 200 cell types of the human body, could be used to repair or replace damaged or diseased tissue. Many animal studies have supported this potential for both embryonic and adult stem cells, with some findings indicating that hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells could be cultured and used to help cancer patients who need bone-marrow transplants, and others suggesting that adult brain stem cells could repair damaged nerve tissue and help paralysis patients recover movement.