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For the tens of thousands of individuals waiting for a heart, lung, kidney, or liver that may never arrive, stem cell researchers may hold the secret to saving their lives. Regenerative stem cells might one day be used to restore damaged tissues in the body that stem cells are capable of transforming into. These anti-rejection medicines and many transplants may be rendered unnecessary with future tissue engineering advancements.

A decade is a long time to wait for results from stem cell research, which is still in its infancy. There is still a lot we don’t know about stem cells, and very few published studies follow rigorous scientific standards. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as therapies for strokes and paralysis, are the focus of current research, which may provide results within the next decade.

Unspecialized and self-renewing, these characteristics make stem cells unique. When a stem cell divides forever, it may become any form of cell in the human body, including those that are unique to bone or cartilage or fat or connective tissue or muscle or islets or retinal networks.

A damaged organ may be repaired using stem cells. Stem cell and transplantation research is now being conducted on mice. Mice’s damaged and infected hearts are repaired by stem cells injected into the animals. There have been a few recent human trials of this approach, which is in its infancy.

Another approach that stem cells may assist those in need of organ donations is via the cloning of new organs from stem cells. Cloned cells are genetically identical to their original counterparts because they are reprogrammed by replacing their nucleus with another cell’s. The idea of cloning people for organs under these conditions, known as “nuclear transfer,” generates both hopes and ethical worries. An organ that can be produced in a lab from stem cells and then surgically implanted to replace a damaged organ is being studied by scientists right now.

Researchers in the field of stem cells are working to better understand how stem cells may be used to heal damaged tissues, as well as whether or not they can do so safely and effectively. Research into the likelihood and prevention of rejection is also required, as is the regulation and direction of stem cell generation into the various tissue, muscle, bone or organ types that are required. In spite of current studies on mice and primates, we have no idea how human cells would respond to transplantation.

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