Indexed on: 06 May '08Published on: 06 May '08Published in: Tissue engineering. Part B, Reviews
Stem cells are the self-renewing progenitors of several body tissues and are classified according to their origin and their ability to differentiate. Current research focuses on the potential uses of stem cells in medicine and how they can provide effective treatment for a range of diseases. This approach has resulted in the field of medical practice called regenerative medicine. To attain the promises of regenerative medicine, it is necessary to fully understand the biology and properties of stem cells, achieve their successful differentiation into functional tissues, overcome the barriers related to immune responses after administration, and assess any oncogenic properties that limit their use. The availability of human stem cells not only raises hope for cell replacement therapies, but also provides a system for understanding the mechanisms of embryonic development and disease progression. Nevertheless, it raises ethical concerns that need to be addressed before the use of stem cells in clinical practice.