Dr. Mark J. Holterman, a professor of medicine at the University of Illinois, sits on the Board of Managers for a biotechnology company developing state-of-the-art methods of stem cell delivery. Before establishing himself in medicine, Dr. Mark J. Holterman earned his MD from the University of Virginia.
The body is composed of many different types of cells, and together, these differentiated cells form functioning organ systems. Alongside specialist cells exist a class of “blank slate” cells called “stem cells” that can transform into a variety of specialized cells, including those that help the heart contract or those that constitute bone marrow.
Researchers see great potential in the use of stem cells to fight disease by repairing or replacing damaged tissues. For example, when someone’s heart is failing, doctors may decide the patient requires a heart transplant, though there are too few hearts for all the patients who need them. Advances in stem cell therapy may one day allow scientists to actually grow patients new, replacement heart tissues from human stem cells.