Amongst the fast track papers at Rejuvenation Research, there is one that describes a stem cell therapy for regenerating damage to the pancreas.
We demonstrate that intravenous delivery of human, or rat, pancreas-derived pathfinder (PDP) cells can totally regenerate critically damaged adult tissue and restore normal function across a species barrier.
One of the more interesting aspects of this demonstration is that rat or human pathfinder cells introduced into mice spur rapid regeneration that produces overwhelmingly mouse tissue rather than rat or human tissue - and all without causing immune issues. These "pathfinder cells" are a form of stem cell found in adult tissues; the name is a branding effort by the for-profit research group Pathfinder, LLC, and is aimed at distinguishing in the marketplace the exact form of stem cell they work with. This process of branding cell configurations or particular forms of cellular reprogramming is something we'll be seeing much more of in the future, no matter how irritating it may be to folk who are just trying to follow the science.
You might find the press release an easier read than the research paper:
the Company's unique cell-based therapy is able to completely reverse diabetes in a mouse model. ... With only two treatments with [pathfinder cells], just days after induction of diabetes, we were able to quickly regenerate critically damaged pancreatic tissue, restoring and maintaining normal glucose levels and healthy body weight. ... Immunohistochemical analyses of animal tissues confirmed [that] treatment lead to regeneration of pancreatic beta-cells and formation of functional islets, which displayed normal architecture. Further examination determined that the regenerated islets consisted overwhelmingly of mouse cells, and to a much lesser extent, donor [rat or human] PCs (0.05-0.18%).
Reading between the lines, I'm given to wonder whether these "pathfinder cells" are in fact much the same thing as the very small embryonic-like stem cells that another group claims to exist in most tissues in the body.
One group of researchers believe that every tissue in the body is supported by a left-over population of fully pluripotent stem cells [(PSCs)] that might be easily accessible for use in therapies. ... In this review we present an evidence that adult tissues contain remnants from development; a population of PSCs that is deposited in various organs as a backup for primitive stem cells, plays a role in rejuvenation of the pool of more differentiated tissue-committed stem cells (TCSCs), and is involved in organ regeneration. These cells share several markers with epiblast/germ line cells and have been named very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs).
If, as here, researchers are already demonstrating promising results with stem cell populations isolated from adult tissues, then it shouldn't be too many more years before these forms of stem cell are well classified (and given more sensible names).