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What are the medical benefits of stem cells?


As stem cells can be induced to grow into new tissues, they have great potential to treat illnesses where tissue has been completely lost, for instance after injury to the spinal cord or nerves, death of heart muscle from a heart attack, liver failure from destruction of cells by viruses or toxins or destruction of functioning lung tissue by disease. Formal clinical trials of adult stem cells are in progress in several countries to assess whether such treatments are effective and safe.

The ability to “manufacture” stem cells from adult donors and patients themselves (see section above on iPSC) has reduced the need to use embryonic stem cells, and opened up a wide range of new possibilities in immunological treatments for cancer, production of vaccines and new therapeutic proteins and diagnostic tests.

In addition, stem cells and the tissues derived from them are an increasingly useful tool for researchers, providing living cells and tissues for understanding diseases and testing new treatments.