Benefits of stem cell research form
Fact Sheet on Stem Cell Research, Wednesday, April 21, 1999.
Scientists have recently isolated and successfully cultured
human pluripotent stem cells1, 2. These human pluripotent
stem cells have an unlimited capacity to divide, and the ability
to develop into most of the specialized cells or tissues in
This advance represents a major step forward in human biology
and has generated much enthusiasm and interest among scientists
and the public, particularly patients and their families.
Because these cells can give rise to many different types
of cells, such as muscle cells, nerve cells, heart cells,
blood cells, and others, they are enormously important to
science and hold great promise for advances in health care.
For example, further research using pluripotent stem cells
may help us:
Generate cells and tissue that could be used for transplantation.
Pluripotent stem cells may be stimulated to develop into many
different specialized cells of the body, which may someday
be used as replacement cells and tissue to treat many diseases
and conditions including Parkinson's disease, spinal cord
injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Improve our understanding of the complex events that occur
during normal human development and also help us understand
what goes wrong to cause diseases and conditions such as birth
defects and cancer.
Change the way we develop drugs and test them for safety
and potential efficacy. New medications could be tested using
human pluripotent stem cells, such as liver cells or skin
cells; only the drugs which are both safe and appear to have
a beneficial effect would graduate to human testing.