Transplantation is an accepted treatment today for many people suffering from organ failure. More and more patients are referred for transplant surgery, and the waiting lists are growing longer because not enough organs and tissues are donated for transplantation. This has led to several potentially viable alternatives being considered, including bio-artificial support devices, the transplantation of mature cells or stem/progenitor cells and the potential transplantation of xenogenic organs and cells [Burra P, Samuel D, Wendon J, Pietrangelo A, Gupta S. Strategies for liver support: from stem cells to xenotransplantation. J Hepatol 2004;41:1050-9]. Numerous investigators around the world are engaged in these investigations and the pace of discovery has begun to accelerate in recent years.
To take stock of the achievements of recent years, the AISF sponsored a Single-Topic Conference, held in Padua on 26-27 May, 2006, with the participation of many leading investigators from various parts of Italy and Europe. This present paper summarizes the content of the Conference.
Different issues were analysed, from the biology of stem cells to the possible use of gene therapy. The speakers were clinicians and scientists interested in diseases not only of the liver but also of other organs such as the kidney or heart. The fact that numerous specialties were represented helped the audience to understand the stem cell research area from different standpoints, and what research has achieved so far. (c) 2007 Editrice Gastroenterologica Italiana S.r.l. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.