Regenerative medicine is the promised paradigm of replacement and repair of damaged or senescent tissues. As the building blocks for organ development and tissue repair, stem cells have unique and wide-ranging capabilities, thus delineating their potential application to regenerative medicine. The recognition that consistent patterns of molecular mechanisms drive organ development and postnatal tissue regeneration has significant implications for a variety of pediatric diseases beyond replacement biology. The observation that organ-specific stem cells derive all of the differentiated cells within a given tissue has led to the acceptance of a stem cell hierarchy model for tissue development, maintenance, and repair. Extending the tissue stem cell hierarchical model to tissue carcinogenesis may revolutionize the manner in which we conceptualize cancer therapeutics. In this review, the clinical promise of these technologies and the emerging concept of "cancer stem cells" are examined. A basic understanding of stem cell biology is paramount to stay informed of this emerging technology and the accompanying research in this area with the potential for clinical application.
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