Irish Independent: Why are stem cells so special?
The late actor Christopher Reeve, famous for his 'Superman' role, helped to give stem cell research a high profile when he spoke of hopes that it would one day relieve his paralysis after a riding accident.
The idea behind stem cell research is to come up with a repair kit for damaged parts of the body. Most adult cells in the body already have a particular purpose which cannot be changed. For example, a heart cell cannot be transformed to take on the work of a liver cell.
Stem cells are different and are still in the early stage of development. So they may be manipulated to help grow healthy tissue. Research is underway for the use of stem cells to treat Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, burns and spinal cord damage.
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