This article will answer many of the questions that you may have on stem cells it also addressing the ethical concerns about stem cell usage. They also have two wonderful images showing were they collect the cells from and what they are used for the other image shows the making of the cells.- MDA
in News, Macular Degeneration, Clinical Trials

Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that can grow indefinitely with an ability to turn into any type of cells in the body (this ability is called pluripotency).
Stem cell research, especially human embryonic stem cell research, holds great potential to treat many diseases such as cancer and diseases in central and peripheral nerve system. However, there are considerable ethical concerns around the use of human embryos.
In 2006, Prof. Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University in Japan, found a way to make induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) by reprogramming the skin cells of adult mice with specific genomic factors (so called Yamanaka factors: OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and c-MYC).
Shortly after the successful animal experiments, he successfully made human iPS cells from human adult skin cells and won a Nobel Prize in 2012 as a result.
iPS cells began a new era of stem cell research because they have many of the characteristics of embryonic stem cells whilst avoiding ethical concerns as the cells come from the patient.
This also means that they will not be rejected if they are grafted back for example as nerve cells into the brain or the retina.
In the future, iPS cells may be used to treat diseases in a variety of ways. They may be used to replace cells that have worn out.
Transplanting photoreceptors is something we hope to do in future, although we will also need to transplant retinal pigment epithelial cells to support the photoreceptors. It’s a bit tricky and we are certainly still several years away from clinical use.
Another potential clinical use of iPS cells is to replace genetically defective cells with freshly made cells where the genetic defect has been repaired.
The other use of iPS cells are to model disease in a dish in order to understand the disease better and potentially find new treatments. This is what we are doing….
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Source: Saves Sight Institute