Stem cells can be thought of as the fountain of health for our bodies. These powerful cells play critically important roles in embryonic development and in adult life. During gestation, stem cells give rise to all of the tissues in our body. Remarkably, embryonic stem cells can be recovered and used to generate essentially any type of tissue in a dish. Even more excitingly, researchers can now generate embryonic-like stem cells, known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), from adult tissues. This allows us to grow tissues and mini-organs from a patient’s own cells. Scientists at the Black Family Stem cell Institute are using embryonic stem cells and iPSCs to study disease mechanisms, screen for new therapeutics, and test novel approaches to generate tissues for transplantation.
In adult life, stem cells rejuvenate our bodies by replacing and repairing worn or damaged tissues. Diminished stem cell activity due to aging or disease causes our tissues to fail, while excessive stem cell activity can cause cancers. Our scientists are probing the mechanisms controlling abnormal stem cell behavior in order to identify new therapies for developmental and degenerative diseases, and uncover better ways to promote healthy aging and prevent and treat cancer.
The cutting-edge basic, translational, and clinical research carried out by our researchers forms an essential platform for developing new drugs and cell-based therapies that are rigorously tested for safety and efficacy, bringing life-changing benefits to patients.