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Cells that have the ability to develop into other types of cells are called pluripotent cells.
The 'adult' stem cells can be derived from children as well as adults. The term 'adult' refers to the mature stage of their development when the unspecialized cells have transformed into specialized cells which are designed to perform specific functions.
Very recent research has shown that it may be possible to change 'adult stem cells' taken from human skin tissue into stem cells resembling embryonic stem cells having the ability to develop into any other type of cell (Kolata).
Induction of Pluripotent Stem Cells from Adult Human Fibroblasts by Defined Factors" by Shinya Yamanaka et al. published in Cell of November 19, 2007; and "Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Lines Derived from Human Somatic Cells" by James Thomson et al., published in Science Express on November 20, 2007
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Those with diabetes can be helped with stem cell therapy, potentially, as well. 10% of the adult American population (20 years of age and older) has diabetes - both diagnosed and undiagnosed ("Diabetes").
For patients suffering from type I diabetes, the pancreatic cells that normally produce insulin for the body, are destroyed by the person's own immune system. "New studies indicate that it may be possible to direct the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells in cell culture to form insulin-producing cells that eventually could be used in transplantation therapy for diabetics" ("What are the Potential Uses").
Although scientists have only been able to experiment with human embryonic stem cells since 1998, with