Adult stem cells are used to treat human diseases, to research new treatment options, and to better understand how they transform into the dazzling array of specialized cells that make us what we are.
Leukemia, which is cancer of the blood cells, is an example of a devastating disease that can be treated with adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood. Read more about diseases treated with adult stem cells.
Adult stem cells can create a small number of different cell types, while embryonic stem cells can create any type of cell in the body except those needed to develop a fetus.
Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) are currently used in early stage research only. Scientists believe they may ultimately become a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat a myriad of diseases, conditions and disabilities. In addition to the ongoing debate, ethics, politics and funding of hESC research, embryonic stem cells face formidable technical challenges. First, scientists must learn how to control their development into all the different types of cells in the body. Second, the cells now available for research are likely to be rejected by a patient's immune system.