It's quite possible that the transplants - autologous and otherwise - of first generation stem cell therapies will give way to manipulation of biochemical signals in the body. Manually moving stem cells from point A to point B is all we can presently reliably accomplish, but that won't be the case for too many more years:
Recently, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis demonstrated that a drug called AMD3100 can mobilize angiogenic cells from bone marrow of human patients in a matter of hours instead of days, as was the case with a related agent called G-CSF.
Angiogenic cells reside mainly in the bone marrow, and when mobilized they can circulate in the bloodstream, homing to sites of injury and helping repair and regrow blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to tissues.
"It might be better to let the appropriate cells find their way through the circulation to the site of injury or low oxygen," he says. "That way you enhance a normal repair mechanism instead of using the brute force of injecting a mixture of many cell types from bone marrow into the affected area."
A wide range of research - both old school drug discovery and more guided approaches based on first understanding the biochemistry involved - is aimed at better control over healing mechanisms such as the disposition and activity of stem cells.
Evolution is not much of an optimizer in comparison to directed, intelligence. The existing mechanisms of our body are open to improvement in all sorts of ways - such as convincing stem cells to get to work in the right place when they would otherwise lie dormant.
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