Stem cell biology is a unique field of research with the potential to fundamentally change our understanding and treatment of human diseases. Adult tissue-specific stem cells are rare cells, that reside in each organ or tissue in our body, that can give rise to new cells of the tissue they reside in, to maintain or replenish and sometimes grow our tissues throughout life. Adult stem cells contribute fresh cells specific to the organ they reside in, unlike embryonic stem cells that still have the capacity to give rise to any type of tissue in the body.
Because stem cells have the potential to generate new cells that can integrate in an organ, they have the potential to replace and repair dysfunctional or damaged tissues. Thus, isolation and transplantation of tissue stem cells form the foundation for regenerative medicine and hold the promise of 'replacement parts' for people or the 'fountain of youth'. Tissue stem cells also have a dark side, because by virtue of being the only cells that self-renew in the body throughout life, they are also the ones that can accumulate one mutation after another over the years, and sometimes these mutations can lead to the emergence of cancer and other diseases. The talk will explore key discoveries in the field of stem cell biology, the promise of regenerative medicine, and how understanding the process of pre-cancer progression in tissue stem cells led to the development of a new and effective Cancer Immunotherapy.
Speaker: Dr. Irving Weissman, MD
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