Cell therapy is part of the new branch of medicine called regenerative medicine, which aims to replace damaged tissue or organs, usually through stem cells. Stem cells are defined as those which are capable of self-renewal, and can develop into all types of cells that make up the human body. They are therefore responsible for the regeneration and growth of various tissues during the development of the organism.
In the field of cell therapy, stem cells can act in two different ways - either by physically entering the damaged tissue and dividing into the specialist cells in that tissue, to restore its functionality or replace it, or by releasing molecules that trigger molecular or cellular mechanisms that have a therapeutic effect on the damaged tissue.
The cell therapy currently used most frequently is the transplant of blood stem cells, to treat blood cancers such as lymphoma or leukaemia, or immune system disorders. Furthermore, the use of skin stem cells for grafts in patients with serious burns is also now common. In the meantime, significant progress is being made to refine innovative cell therapies for retinal degenerative diseases, some rare conditions, such as epidermolysis bullosa, and some types of tumour.