Stem cells are undifferentiated cells which are capable of giving rise to indefinitely more cells of the same type, and from which certain other kinds of cells arise by differentiation. They can be used to treat or prevent a disease or condition. Jyotsna Dhawan, a noted cellular biologist, revealed that though there are many stem cell therapies that are being explored, bone marrow transplant is the only one which has been tried and tested. Dhawan was speaking at a special lecture on 'Stem cells: Myths and Realities' at the India International Center (IIC) on Friday evening.
Dhawan, a senior scientist at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, said, "Stem cells are a potential source of repair of other tissues and can be very useful in treating genetic and inherited diseases. Stem cells are specially useful in treating genetic disorders associated with blood like hemophilia and thalassemia. But, major ethical issues arise when embryonic stem cells (cells taken from a fetus) are used for therapy. Most of the stem cell therapies like the ones which can successfully treat Parkinson's disease and methods of ortho-reconstruction are in experimental stages."
Research is on to try and find cures for debilitating and terminal diseases like muscular dystrophy and cancer through stem cell therapy.