One ideal end result of stem cell research would be the ability to provoke cells within the body into controlled regeneration, replicating the world they did during early development to repair any cell loss suffered by the body. Easier said than done, but technology demonstrations over the past few years have shown that the potential is there: controlling signals exist to direct cellular behavior. They are very complex, and still poorly understood, but progress is being made. This report is an example of the sort of work presently taking place:
mammals can be stimulated to regrow inner nerve cells in their damaged retinas. Located in the back of the eye, the retina's role in vision is to convert light into nerve impulses to the brain.
Other scientists have shown before that certain retina nerve cells from mice can proliferate in a laboratory dish. This new report gives evidence that retina cells can be encouraged to regenerate in living mice.
This is a demonstration only, as the regenerated cells are created after artificial biochemical signals are issued into the bodies of mice, but don't last long. It's not enough to just create new cells: they must be created in such a way as to integrate with their functional systems they are to support.