Stem cells are able to growth and form all of the different tissues that make up a body. Some can only form a single type of tissue while other, rarer stem cells can form any tissue. Recent research has enabled us to isolate many of the stem cells that can grow to form lungs or kidneys for example (also spine, liver and heart) and they are grown and used to treat some forms of cancer via bone marrow transplants.
Much work has been carried out on adult stem cells as they have a few advantages over embryonic stem cells i.e.
- they are less controversial with no destruction of embryo's
- if it becomes possible to generate viable organs that can be transplanted into a patient then they will cause far fewer problems of tissue rejection if the stems cells used came from the patient.