The biotech evolution of our generation is the reprogramming and growth of these amazing cells outside of the body for insertion into patients as a treatment for multiple human illnesses. Stem cell treatments have being heralded as the treatments of the future for illnesses such as heart disease, neurological deterioration and physical disabilities related to spinal injuries. If we could use our own stem cells to build new heart cells, brain cells or nerve cells to replace those that are damaged or deteriorating, this would lead to the cure of certain illness rather than just their on-going treatment.
Whilst all of this sounds fantastic, people may consider this sort of treatment a fantasy which their grandchildren's children may enjoy, but not their particular generation. This is where they are wrong. There are already two stem cell based treatments being used in the UK. One is the treatment of leukaemia and the other is to restore diseased or damaged corneas - with many more to come.
Research currently being tested, with a view to use as a treatment in the future, includes heart cells to replace damaged cardiac muscles (which can lead to heart failure), stem cell injections in patients with osteoarthritis to repair damaged cartilage, and replacing the immune system in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with fresh haematopoietic stem cells which then mature into different types of white blood cells creating a new, MS free immune system. Whilst these treatments are still in the research stage, their results should be released in the next few years and if successful, could give hope to millions of people around the world for a cure to these debilitating, and sometimes deadly, illnesses rather than a life-long treatment plan.