The “Behind the Headlines” service, from Bazian (the company behind NHS Choices and NHS Evidence), reviews medical topics in the news. NHS Choices has examined many news stories on dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, some of which have been pulled together in the current summary of stem cell research. Stem cells do appear to offer the potential to cure a wide range of conditions and disabilities.
This report analyses media coverage of stem cell research, and provides an easy-to-digest insight into the underlying science. Questions covered include: what are stem cells and why are they important; how long will we have to wait for stem cell cures; are stem cell headlines misleading; is there misplaced optimism; how are stem cells obtained; and how are stem cells used currently?
The report covers practical applications in the fields of bone marrow transplants; use of cell culture models for diseases (including deafness, Alzheimer’s Disease and various inherited diseases); and current stem cell treatments in humans, such as spinal cord injury (growing new connections), stroke (promoting rehabilitation), Type 1 diabetes (resetting the immune system), multiple sclerosis (preventing nerve damage), eye disease (renewing the cornea), and tissue grown for transplants. Potential future applications of stem cells are thought to include organs grown in the laboratory and targeting stem cells to heal damaged tissue. This balanced and cautious report also asks whether it is yet possible to trust some of the stem cell treatments on offer and the private stem cell clinics active in the field.
Hope and hype: stem cells in the media. (A behind the headlines special report). London: Bazian (NHS Choices), November 18th 2011.