There are two ideas behind the use of cells as a medical treatment. The first is to provide a source of missing cells, say to heal a tissue that is injured or to renew a population of cells that are killed off by a disease such as Alzheimer's. The second notion is to manipulate cells to produce a missing substance, such as the protein that is missing in boys affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Researchers at the McGowan Institute are developing cell-based treatments based on both approaches for a broad array of injuries and conditions, using many different cell types. The Institute is particularly committed to exploring the full potential of adult stem cells. These cells, which exist in all of us as a repair mechanism for tissues lost to trauma, disease, and wear and tear, have been studied for decades, and are already widely used to treat some conditions, such as leukemia.