Stem Cells and Regenerative MedicineFundamentals, Therapeutic Applications and Ethical Considerations

Launched October 2007 Updated August 2009 17 lectures

The need for progress in cell, tissue and organ replacement therapies is already acute and is continuing to grow as society is developing into a more aged population. In addition, it is clear that many diseases can not be cured by small molecule drugs, e.g. Type I diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease,... read moreand new therapies based on introduction of replacement cells are being talked of as keys to progress.

The exponential growth over the past decade in both our knowledge of stem cells and understanding of the mechanisms that control their differentiation to specific cell phenotypes is providing an enormous impetus towards developing new therapies in the relatively new field known as regenerative medicine.

The term regenerative medicine is used nowadays to describe medical acts, treatments and research that use cells, predominantly stem cells, to restore the function of organs or tissues. This can be achieved in two main ways; by administering stem cells, or specific cells that are derived from stem cells in the laboratory, directly or as part of a construct on a scaffold, or by administering drugs that coax stem cells that are already present in tissues to repair more efficiently the involved tissue.

Currently, the only routinely applied stem cells in medical practice are those from the bone marrow. However, the therapeutic application of other types, including human embryonic stem cells, is in its developing stages, but is already showing promising experimental results.

This series of talks has been designed to provide an introduction to the field of regenerative medicine and covers pertinent aspects including stem cell sources and biology, their use in therapy and as models for diseases and such broader issues such as commercialization of regenerative therapies and the ethics of embryonic stem cell research.