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Minim Invasive Ther Allied Technol. 2008;17(2):100-18. doi: 10.1080/13645700801969980.

Stem cell-based therapy in gastroenterology and hepatology.

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Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Stem Cell Research Group (G.H.S.C.) , Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, Gemelli Hospital, Catholic University of Rome, Rome, Italy.


Protagonists of a new scientific era, stem cells are promising tools on which regenerative medicine relies for the treatment of human pathologies. Stem cells can be obtained from various sources, including embryos, fetal tissues, umbilical cord blood, and also terminally differentiated organs. Once forced to expand and differentiate into functional progenies, stem cells may become suitable for cell replacement and tissue engineering. The manipulation and/or stimulation of adult stem cells seems to be particularly promising, as it could improve the endogenous regenerative potential without risks of rejection and overcome the ethical and political issues related to embryonic stem cell research. Stem cells are already leaving the bench and reaching the bedside, despite an incomplete knowledge of the genetic control program driving their fate and plasticity. In gastroenterology and hepatology, the first attempts to translate stem cell basic research into novel therapeutic strategies have been made for the treatment of several disorders, such as inflammatory bowel diseases, diabetes mellitus, celiachy and acute or chronic hepatopaties. Nonetheless, critical aspects need to be further addressed, including the long-term safety, tolerability and efficacy of cell-based treatments, as well as their carcinogenic potential. Aim of this review is to summarize the state-of-the-arts on gastrointestinal and hepatic stem cells and on stem cell-based therapies in gastroenterology and hepatology, highlighting both the benefits and the potential risks of these new tools for the treatment and prevention of human diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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