Stem cells are specialised cells in our bodies which can develop into any other type of cell – a blood cell, bone cell or even a brain cell. This unique ability makes them useful for research. There are no treatments for Alzheimer’s and other dementias that use stem cells, but scientists can turn stem cells into nerve cells and use these to study brain cells, and the effects of Alzheimer’s, in the lab.
Stem cells come from two sources
- Adults. Stem cells can be collected from a small skin biopsy.
- Embryos. Stem cells can be collected from embryos after a termination or embryos leftover from IVF treatments.
All UK research involving embryonic stem cells is strictly regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
We support research using stem cells to understand Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Our stem cell research projects focus on using stem cells made from adult skin cells. You can read more about how this process is being used in our Stem Cell Research Centre.
However as this is a relatively new research technique, some of our stem cell researchers may still study stem cells derived from human embryos to make sure their skin cell-derived stem cells are behaving in the way they would expect of naturally-occurring stem cells.
If you would like to restrict your donation to non-stem cell research projects, you can let us know when making a donation.