What are stem cells?

Stem cells form a reservoir of cells in the body, replenishing stocks of specialised cells that have been damaged or used up. They are unique in their ability to make copies of themselves as well as other more specialised cell types. Scientists are now exploiting the potential of stem cells to model diseases 'in a dish'. In the future, stem cells may be able to regenerate cells, including neurons, that have been lost or damaged because of disease.

There is a wealth of detailed but accessible information on stem cells and their use on the EuroStemCell information pages at http://www.eurostemcell.org/stem-cells