The development of stem cells for therapeutic purposes, including cell therapy and regenerative medicine, is emerging as a major field of pharmaceutical research.

A few countries, Russia , China , a few South American nations, etc developed as huge and unregulated trade stem cell treatment at private clinics and beauty salons. Across the world, research into stem cells is still at an early stage and clinical trials on humans are rare. However, treatments using the cells ? or purporting to use them ? are easily available in the countries, despite being officially prohibited or not. Some unscrupulous scientists are thought to be in league with private boutiques and clinics in a shady but hugely lucrative business. The patients are effectively paying to be guinea pigs for untested treatments.

One major concern is that patients are being injected with a blend of tissues from aborted fetuses or other material whose origin is doubtful. Medical professional scientists compared this kind of treatment to the 19th century Brown-Sequard “organotherapy” whereby human diseases were treated using extracts from animal organs. The only reason people feel a positive effect for a month or 6 weeks after the injection is because introducing foreign material into the body causes immuno-stimulation. In fact, it is potentially very harmful. Firstly, it can cause teratomas(tumours) which could turn malignant. Secondly, you introduce infection because you cannot check all the viruses when you take material from an embryo which is developing and where the origin is unknown. Some patients have already spoken out about the adverse effects they have suffered. Stem cells are truly magic cells. But the problem is, there is still so much we don't know about them and the effects they have on the body. That's why we have to get all this unregulated practice under control.

While human stem cells offer potential therapeutic value -- an arena that has become politically overcharged or confront to biological difficulty as I mentioned above, the more immediate benefit from research into such cells will likely come through their use in drug discovery. This technology offers great potential for understanding disease mechanisms and identifying targets, and for effective toxicology screening.

Stem cells represent a powerful tool for applications in bio-raw material screening as well as regenerative medicine. We are using in vitro bioluminescence imaging to investigate the contribution to specific biological activities of specific materials on the stem cells. For example, we are screening skin pigment synthesis regulators.

We developed a new reporter gene assay expressing luciferase(Luc) under the control of the microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) in stem cell. MITF is the master regulator of the pigmentation. This assay was highly sensitive and reproducible, and responded as expected to melanogenesis regulators such as Forskolin, α-melanin stimulating hormone(α-MSH), etc. The transfected cells were increased the expression of luciferase in response to melanogenesis signal or down regulated with known melanogenesis inhibitors. These results suggest that the MITF-Luc assay could be a valuable tool for the large-scale screening for melanogenesis agonists and antagonists in vitro. The melanogenesis regulators are very useful for medical or cosmetic fields.