Stem cell research at Sheffield includes directing adult-derived cell properties towards bone, nerve, tendon and cartilage cells and includes bioreactor scale-up approaches for therapeutic applications.
Stem cells are characterized by an ability to renew themselves through mitotic division. They can form (or differentiate) in to a diverse range of specialized cell types. Broadly speaking two major types of mammalian stem cells exist – embryonic stem cells which are isolated from the inner mass of blastocysts and adult stem cells found in adult tissues.
Considerable excitement and potential surrounds stem cells as they can be grown and transformed into specialized cells such as muscle, bone or nerve by routine cell culture. It is therefore thought that stem cell therapy might be able to dramatically change how we treat human disease.
It is important to note that great deal of social and scientific uncertainty still surrounds stem cell research – and this is being addressed by the stem cell community through public debate and rigorous scientific research.