Stem cell therapies: Not just transplants

Paul Knoepfler, a CIRM grantee at UC Davis, has a recent blog entry in his Stem Cell Myths series. The myth he debunks this time: Stem cell therapies are all transplants. As he so rightly points out, embryonic, iPS or tissue-specific stem cells can also be studied in the lab as a way of developing drugs that activate our own body’s stem cell to heal the diseased organ or tissue. He writes:

In this way of thinking, specific drugs are given to a patient to put their own stem cells to work against the disease. Such drugs may stimulate the endogenous stem cells to expand and increase greatly in numbers as well. This kind of stem cell therapy is inherently far safer than anything done with a transplant.

 Knoepfler’s previously debunked myth was that embryonic stem cells are no longer needed.