Are the promises of stem cell therapies realistic?
The list of medical achievements stem cells could offer seems to be expanding at an incredible pace. The role of stem cells in medicine is already very real, but there is a danger of exaggerating the promise of new medical developments. What tend to be “over-promised” are not only the potential out-comes of both embryonic and adult stem cell research, but also the time scales that are involved. The basic research needed to develop viable therapeutic options in a lengthy process that may extend over many years and decades. Even after science has moved from basic research to developing medical applications, it still takes many years to thoroughly test those applications and demonstrate that they are safe to prescribe for patients. This is true for all medical treatments, including the development of new drugs, procedures, and medical equipment, and is not specific to the living cell therapies made possibly by stem cell research.