Scientists also are very interested in adult stem cells, such as bone marrow or brain stem cells, which exist in tissues after birth, and are likely to give rise to a more limited number of cell types but may have significant therapeutic potential.
Scientists also believe that stem cells may someday help to prevent the devastating complications of diabetes, which include heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, diabetic retinopathy, kidney disease, nerve damage and birth defects. Many of these complications involve damage to large or small blood vessels. Stem cells show promise repairing blood vessels, so researchers hope that they might be able to undo some of the long-term damage that results from diabetes.
To unlock the therapeutic potential of stem cells, it will be necessary to understand the mechanisms that define and control their developmental capabilities, and that regulate their capacities for self-renewal and growth and adapting to particular environments. Studies of developmental biology thus go hand-in-hand with stem cell biology, because they will identify the control circuits that govern how stem cells function. In addition, while the ability to study human stem cells has opened up extraordinary new therapeutic opportunities, it is still necessary simultaneously to study stem cells in animal models, in which it is possible to perform a far greater range of experiments on how these cells function within the body. The Section on Developmental and Stem Cell Biology will create interactions and synergy among these complemen
Contact: Marjorie Dwyer
Joslin Diabetes Center