World Stem Cell Summit kicks off in SA with Public Education Day

1200+ scientists, patient advocates from 40 countries in town for summit

SAN ANTONIO – More than a thousand scientists, industry leaders and patient advocates from 40 countries are headed to San Antonio for the World Stem Cell Summit.

Organizers are calling it the center of the universe when it comes to stem cells and regenerative medicine.

On Tuesday the summit kicked off with Public Education Day, where some of the smartest scientists in the field broke the topic down into bite-sized pieces.

"To be able to replenish our cells that die within a tissue on a daily basis, in order for us to be able to heal wounds, we have to have stem cells," said Elaine Fuchs, an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

She started her research in the field in the 1970s with work on skin stem cells, and said she was fascinated with creating skin in a petri dish that could then be used for burn therapy.

Fuchs spoke at Public Education Day about the most basic biology of stem cells and said that knowledge is leading to a new world in medicine.

"The biology of stem cells is gong to be and is being extremely valuable in terms of developing new therapies and coming up with new drugs to treat various different devastating diseases," Fuchs said.

Bernard Siegel, the founder of the World Stem Cell Summit, said stem cells could help the field of medicine shift from drugs and surgery to regeneration, which he called a game-changer.

"Imagine if we can actually treat and cure disease by inserting cells into the human body to regenerate damaged tissue and organs. It's a paradigm-shift," Siegel said.