It has often been said that challenges and difficulties represent opportunities in disguise, and perhaps nowhere than in scientific or medical research is this more true. Diseases and injuries which previously have had no cure are precisely the driving force behind stem cell research today. If disease and injury did not exist, neither would the heated debates surrounding stem cell therapies, since there would be no need for therapies. Underlying the lure of stem cell research is the universal hope for improving the lot of mankind, which all of us share. A scientist who was recently interviewed about his work in embryonic stem cell research stated that the common desire shared by people working in this field is not to create "monsters" in the laboratory, but rather to help patients who need therapies which do not yet exist.
The previously cited NIH report on stem cells opens with the following observations:
"The makings of future news headlines about tomorrow's life saving therapies starts in the biomedical research laboratory. Ideas abound; early successes and later failures, and knowledge gained from both; the rare lightning bolt of an unexpected breakthrough discovery - this is a glimpse of the behind the scenes action of some of the world's most acclaimed stem cell scientists' quest to solve some of the human body's most challenging mysteries."(From "Stem Cell: Scientific Progress and Future Research Directions", available for free download at http://stemcells.nih.gov).
Stem cell therapy may no longer be considered "alternative" treatment.
Especially with cancer, "kill it, cut it, burn it" has been the conventional approach to therapy throughout the past, with results that were rarely encouraging. But now, there exists a much more successful, and humane, type of therapy, for all types disease. In the treatment of everything from heart disease to cancer, and from accidental injury to genetic disease, stem cell therapy offers a fresh, new hope.
And of all the various types of stem cells, it is the pluripotent umbilical and placental stem cells, as well as the multipotent and pluripotent adult stem cells, especially adult bone marrow stem cells, which offer the greatest optimism for future therapies.
As NIH has described, stem cells offer "the potential to revolutionize the practice of medicine." (From http://stemcells.nih.gov).
The "stem cell revolution" is more than mere potential. It is already a new reality, fully underway.