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Future possibilities

Stem cell research can be described as one of the most promising areas of medical science. Several researchers have won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in recognition of their achievements in stem cell research. This highest symbol of scientific recognition went to two US researchers in 2007, Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies, along with the British scientist Martin Evans. In 2012, it was shared by Sir John Bertrand Gurdon, a Brit, and the Japanese scientist Jamanaka Sinja in recognition of their achievements in the field of stem cell research.

The best known findings so far have been in the fields of regenerative or corrective medicine. The aim of this regenerative medicine is to use stem cells to replace cells or tissues destroyed by an accident or by disease. Stem cell therapy can be used to replace heart muscle cells after a heart attack, nerve cells following a spinal injury, and by creating insulin-producing cells for the treatment of diabetes. Successful clinical research is under way into the suitability of stem cell implantation in the treatment of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Also proving fruitful is research into relieving the symptoms of patients with diseases involving muscle atrophy.