Stem cells can help us ‘build a human heart in a dish’ — but what are they, really?

From ABC Science, 22 September 2018:

Stem cell transplants smell like creamed corn, apparently.

Petras learned this as he was undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.He’d already received chemotherapy to kill the cancerous cells coursing through his lymphatic system, but the disease had bounced back.

The best option to save his life was to carpet-bomb his immune system — killing the cancer-ridden cells alongside the healthy ones — then reboot it with a transplant of healthy bone marrow stem cells harvested before the treatment. The approach is a modern take on the oldest form of stem cell therapy, namely bone marrow transplants, the first of which was performed nearly half a century ago.

Since then, stem cell scientists have been working to understand just what stem cells are, how to control them, and — most importantly — what can be done with them. At the recent International Society for Stem Cell Research conference in Melbourne, stem cells showed they are ready for prime time. Read more.

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