Since stem cells have the potential to become almost any cell in the body, these cells offer tremendous potential to repair damage from serious injuries and degenerative diseases. However, stem cell treatments seem to be taking a while to develop.
There are two clinically approved treatments using stem cells: hematopoietic stem cell transplants for leukemia and other blood diseases, and skin grafts grown from stem cells for burn treatment. Both of these treatments use adult stem cells, also known as progenitor cells. Also, both predate the era of aggressive research on stem cell therapies that began about 15 years ago when Dr. James Thompson developed the first embryonic stem cell lines at the University of Wisconsin.
However, stem cell technology is really still a new area and researchers have just begun to unravel the processes controlling cell differentiation. Even with the limited current understanding, however, therapies for cardiovascular and neurological diseases, and treatments to repair damage to the eye, spine, and cartilage are all making their way through trials.
For more information on this developing area, take a look at the recently posted article, "Delivering on Stem Cell Therapy Treatments" that review developments in stem cell therapy and the progress towards clincal treatment based on this technology.