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About Stem Cell Research


Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can develop into specialized tissue types. Researchers are investigating how to isolate and culture them, and control their differentiation, in the hope that they can be used to treat and understand a variety of diseases.

Stem cells can be derived from a number of cellular sources: adult, fetal, and placental tissues; umbilical cord blood; and embryos. Stem cells from these different sources have different properties.

Adult stem cells can be obtained from the bodies of adults and children, and until recently considered multipotent, which means that particular adult stem cells can develop into specific tissue types. Adult stem cells have been used in therapies such as bone marrow transplants for years.

Embryonic stem cells are found in early embryos. They are pluripotent, which means they can develop into all tissue types and be cultured as stem cell "lines." No therapies have been developed from human embryonic stem cells, which were first isolated in 1998.

In recent years, new methods of cellular reprogramming have enabled the derivation of so-called induced pluripitent stem (iPS) cells, which seem to have the full powers of embryonic stem cells but are from adult body cells.

Human embryonic stem cell research is controversial because it destroys embryos. Most investigations use embryos created but not used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Some scientists have worked to derive human embryonic stem cells using a cloning technique called research cloning, which raises a separate set of troubling questions.



California voters were promised cures. But the state stem cell agency has funded just a trickle of clinical trials[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Charles PillerSTATJanuary 19th, 2017The Institute of Medicine said in a 2013 review that institutionalized conflicts of interest have raised questions about "the integrity and independence of some of CIRM’s decisions."
Obama vs. Trump: 5 ways they clash — or don’t — on health and scienceby Dylan ScottSTATJanuary 9th, 2017While Trump might play some wild cards in medicine, science, and public health, there may be some surprising continuity with President Obama’s administration.
Designer babies: an ethical horror waiting to happen?by Philip BallThe Guardian January 8th, 2017A perfectly feasible 10-20% improvement in health via PGD, added to the comparable advantage that wealth already brings, could lead to a widening of the health gap between rich and poor, both within a society and between nations.
UC Davis professor wants FDA to create firm guidelines for stem-cell treatments, put clinics on noticeby Claudia BuckSacramento BeeDecember 24th, 2016Now is the time for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to finalize guidelines and send notices to clinics that are offering untested treatments.
Biopolitical News of 2016by Pete Shanks, Leah Lowthorp & Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesDecember 13th, 2016We highlight 2016’s trends in and top news stories about human biotech developments.
With 21st Century Cures Act, the Future of Regenerative Medicine Is “Inject and See”by Megan MoltenWiredDecember 13th, 2016Critics say it’s deregulation in sheep’s clothing — and worry that both science and patients will suffer.
Why the hype around medical genetics is a public enemyby Nathaniel ComfortAeonDecember 12th, 2016The progress of science is the steady realisation of how little we actually know. The more we, the public, understand that, the more we will see through the hype.
Winners and losers of the 21st Century Cures Actby Sheila KaplanSTATDecember 5th, 2016Despite overwhelming bipartisan support, Elizabeth Warren says the bill was "hijacked" by Big Pharma to water down safety requirements for new drugs and devices.
Amid Lawsuit, San Diego Stem Cell Company Pushes Back On Proposed Regulationsby David WagnerKPBSDecember 5th, 2016Patients currently suing the company say they paid thousands of dollars for treatments that didn't work.
New ​Chair of ​our ​Diversity ​and​ Health Disparities​ Research Cluster​ on Colorblindness and the Need for a New Biopoliticsby Sara GrossmanHaas Institute, UC BerkeleyDecember 2nd, 2016In a faculty profile interview, CGS Fellow Osagie Obasogie discusses colorblindness and biopolitics.
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