Canada is at the forefront of stem cell research. From bone marrow transplants to treat cancers such as leukemia, to recent clinical trials that use neural stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries,1 stem cells can repair and mend our bodies. It’s safe to say that this field is a stepping stone to transforming and restructuring health care as we know it.
The prospects of stem cells seem quite straight forward, but one aspect remains unclear to the public – what is a stem cell? Stem cells are immature blood cells that have the ability to self-reproduce and transform into different types of tissues and cells such as red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets.2 Unlike specialized cells, such as muscle cells, that are unable to replicate and replace themselves, stem cells divide and produce identical copies of themselves and do so throughout the life of an organism.3 In other words, stem cells replace damaged cells that our bodies cannot replace naturally.
Stem cell research is only at its early stages of growth. However, by diving into this field, we can succeed in various therapeutic fields, including regenerative medicine, since stem cells have the potential to create new cells, tissues, and organs that can be used for transplantation, in turn saving millions of lives.
Image courtesy of the SSSCR’s Facebook page
The Student Society for Stem Cell Research (SSSCR), is an international network dedicated to the advancement of scientific research for cures. SSSCR hosts annual Stem Cells Conferences, the next of which will be held on January 27, 2018, at Bahen Centre. The day-long conference will showcase the many developments made in stem cell research. It will discuss the discoveries and progress made, particularly regarding ethics, policies, innovation, publication, and technology. Researchers from a variety of hospitals and institutions in Toronto will be invited to present their current work on the topic of stem cells and how it has pioneered a number of innovative medical techniques. In addition to researchers, graduate students will also be invited to present their research.
Speakers will have the opportunity to conduct smaller scale discussions on specific subjects within the field. Towards the end of the day, there will be a panel discussion looking at leading issues surrounding stem cells in medicine.
This conference will allow attendees to gain pertinent information regarding principles of research, and to connect with professionals of the field to gain insight on the successful streak the field has had in extending the frontiers of knowledge.
1: Morsehead, Cindi M. et al (1994). Neural Stem Cells in the Adult Mammalian Forebrain: A Relatively Quiescent Subpopulation of Subependymal Cells. Neuron, 13(5), 1071-1082.
2: Bayramova, AN (2017). The Role of Stem Cells of the Basal Layer of Endometrium in Gynaecological Diseases. Critical Care Obstetrics and Gynecology, 3(13).
3: Types of Stem Cells and Their Uses. (n.d.) Retrieved November 13, 2017, from