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Why are Stem Cells Important?

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 2 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
Stem Cells Therapy Therapies Important

To list the ways in which stem cells are important is a broad task because stem cells use is virtually limitless. Stem cells have the potential to treat an enormous range of diseases and conditions that plague millions of people around the world. Their ability to treat so many diseases rests on their unique properties of:

  • Self-renewal: stem cells can renew themselves almost indefinitely. This is also known as proliferation.
  • Differentiation: stem cells have the special ability to differentiate into cells with specialised characteristics and functions.
  • Unspecialised: stem cells themselves are largely unspecialised cells which then give rise to specialised cells.

Human Development

One reason that stem cells are important is due to human development from stem cells. As such, an understanding of their unique attributes and control can teach us more about early human development. Diseases such as cancer are thought to result from abnormal cell proliferation and differentiation. This means that an understanding of where things go 'wrong' in stem cell division and thus lead to cancer can help us find ways to prevent the dysfunctional changes or employ effective ways to treat them with targeted drugs.

Birth Defects

Stem cell research has the potential to teach us more about how birth defects occur and how these can be prevented or possibly reversed. An understanding of the regulation and chemical triggers of stem cell proliferation and differentiation are key to addressing birth defects.

Cell Therapies

Probably the most important therapeutic value for stem cells is the use of cell therapies. A cell therapy is a treatment that replaces dysfunctional or diseased tissues with stem cells.

At present, stem cells are already used in cell therapies for treatment of some cancer types but this use is still small in the scheme of diseases affecting humans today.

We are also using organ transplants but unfortunately, the number of organs available for transplant is scarce in comparison with those requiring an organ transplant. Many people suffer endlessly awaiting a transplant and others will die before they are able to receive one. The potential for stem cells to replace damaged cells and tissues is an exciting one for those who will require a transplant during their lifetime. Diseases that it is expected stem cells will treat one day include Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases as well as those diseases affecting the retina and heart.

Clearly, stem cell use is exciting and holds great promise for treating and perhaps one day curing many diseases. Their importance ranges from an understanding of the principles behind human development to the cell based therapies addressing those aspects that go awry during development and lead to disease.

For those who are already suffering from a disease that stem cells can treat, such as certain cancer types, stem cells may currently have more personal importance and relevance. For others, it is likely that at some point in their life, they or a loved one will be affected by a disease that stem cells can treat, so it's good to keep abreast of stem cell research. The well-being and health of those you love is important and equally important are the stem cells that may one day prolong and improve your own life.

Find out More about Diseases and Stem Cells

To find out more about how stem cell research is helping to create medicines to fight disease, read our feature about major diseases and stem cells.

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[Add a Comment]
I had stem cell treatment in Madrid, Spain, by (Dr. Miguel Garber) my experience was great with my diabetes, alter 6 month I noted my HbA1c decrease from 7.6 to 6.1 and actually no Longer I use insulin.I paid$6,500.00 Euros and no I thought it is an reasonable price.
Renii - 25-Jan-17 @ 11:14 PM
Eleven patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) who are taking part in a small study of high dose immunosuppressive therapy followed by transplantation of their own stem cells have experienced sustained remission for three years, in our center.
MikeRpepe - 25-Jan-17 @ 11:12 PM
Girly - Your Question:
This is very beneficial to me. I am really understanding what's important in cell biology. Very exciting.

Our Response:
We are glad it has helped and is of interest to you.
ExploreStemCells - 15-Nov-16 @ 3:01 PM
This is very beneficial to me. I am really understanding what's important in cell biology. Very exciting.
Girly - 15-Nov-16 @ 3:32 AM
ikr this is so stupid and confusing just for homework.
i agree with your mo - 29-Oct-16 @ 3:16 PM
i like this website but i need full news of importance of stem cells
imi khan - 26-Dec-15 @ 5:11 AM
As an older sister to a little that could benefit from stem cells with his disease. I think others should be aware of the importance of the stem cells because possibly it could effect one of their loved ones.
Oldersis - 16-Jun-15 @ 4:36 AM
can you guys please help me, I need to know how do you see stem cells changing your future. I really really need help
Froes16 - 8-Jun-15 @ 4:27 AM
really it is very useful for a child after he/she is born,i am really to those scientists who invented this method thank you
niloo - 11-Dec-14 @ 3:51 PM
Stem cells represent an exciting area in medicine because of their potential to regenerate and repair damaged tissue. Some current therapies, such as bone marrow transplantation, already make use of stem cells and their potential for regeneration of damaged tissues. Other therapies are under investigation that involves transplanting stem cells into a damaged body part and directing them to grow and differentiate into healthy tissue.
gilbert19trail - 27-Oct-14 @ 5:19 PM
This is such a help..Thank you..makes me aware of somethings..
AJ - 7-Sep-14 @ 3:12 AM
This article helped me with my 8th grade oration. Now I know about the importance of stem cell research and why we need it. Thank you. =3D
logibear - 19-Nov-13 @ 10:47 PM
I think this gives alot of info because im doing human cloning for a project and I have a bunch of questions about stem cells and I believe this answers most of them so much info!!!!
gigi - 27-Nov-12 @ 3:37 PM
I have to thank you so much for writing this article.It helped me so much during my 10 science project. Also this article lacks miniskirts and alchemy.
All Female officers - 5-Nov-12 @ 6:08 PM
Why do we have to learn about this in school when i dont want to be a doctor? Are stem cells going to be part of the future?
your mom - 5-Nov-12 @ 5:54 PM
Once again, please do something about giving British hospital patients who suffer from all types of cancer stem cells because I REALLY CARE a LOT lot people.
Mark Simon - 12-Jul-12 @ 7:45 PM
Can yous guys PLEASE do something about giving British cancer patients in British hospitals stem cells to save lives of cancer patients in British hospitals because I care a LOT for people.
Mark Simon - 28-Jun-12 @ 7:44 PM
how are cells specailsed; and exsplain how thanks;
gee - 21-Jun-12 @ 12:17 PM
This article helped with my 7th grade project, and I'm glad It showed all the information about it, because I was able to cite it.
Z - 23-Jan-12 @ 7:15 PM
I like this website because it really tells you the importance of human development and the importance of stem cells, its great :-)
Butta - 30-Mar-11 @ 6:17 PM
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