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One human organ, skin, is already grown in the laboratory. Healthy skin cells taken from a patient who has suffered severe burns can be grown to provide a self-compatible skin graft – this means that the risk of rejection by the patient's immune system is reduced to virtually zero.
Perhaps the most important potential application of human stem cells is the generation of cells and tissues that could be used for cell-based therapies. Today, donated organs and tissues are often used to replace ailing or destroyed tissue, but the need for transplantable tissues and organs far outweighs the available supply. Stem cells, directed to differentiate into specific cell types, offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat diseases including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.