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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.



Editorial: Editing human genes the CRISPR wayby Editorial BoardThe Chicago TribuneApril 27th, 2016Can we trust scientists and governments to set ethical boundaries for research and therapeutic use — and then stick to them? We're skeptical.
The Scientific Swap Meet Behind the Gene-Editing Boomby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewApril 8th, 2016"Amazon.com for biological parts," AddGene non-profit in Cambridge ships CRISPR-Cas9 parts all over the world. “It dramatically sped up CRISPR adoption."
Stem cell agency okays $150 million ‘powerhouse’by David JensenCapitol WeeklyApril 8th, 2016The agency approved financing terms for a proposed public-private company that it hopes will accelerate the creation of stem cell therapies.
Will California Expand the Market for Women’s Eggs?by Marcy DarnovskyApril 7th, 2016A bill sponsored by the fertility industry seeks yet again to overturn existing policies that allow reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses for women who provide eggs for research, but not inducements of thousands of dollars beyond that.
CRISPR dispute raises bigger patent issues that we’re not talking aboutby Shobita ParthasarathyThe ConversationApril 4th, 2016CRISPR patents will confer enormous control over how the controversial technology develops, and what kinds of human genetic engineering might become commercially available.
REGROW Act is Attack on Science-Based Stem Cell Trial Oversightby Paul KnoepflerThe NicheMarch 28th, 2016Paul Knoepfler challenges the REGROW Act, which would allow stem cell researchers to bypass some of the FDA's typical regulatory mechanisms.
Whose Body, Whose Property, What Choice?by Alison Irvine & Katayoun Chamany, Biopolitical Times guest contributorsMarch 21st, 2016A recent panel at The New School brought together speakers on health psychology, queer studies, law, life sciences, and more to discuss bodies purchased for labor and care in assisted reproduction.
Scientists develop new human stem cells with half a genomeby Bill BerkrotReutersMarch 16th, 2016Stem cells derived from a human egg are the first human cells known to be capable of division with just one copy of the parent cell's genome.
Researchers claim to have made artificial mouse sperm in a dishby David CyranoskiNature NewsFebruary 25th, 2016A study describes 12-month old mice born from eggs fertilized with artificial spermatids, but some are not convinced by the report.
Chinese Cloning Firm Pumps $15 Million into California Stem Cell Businessby David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportFebruary 24th, 2016A financially strapped California stem cell company could be taken over by a Chinese enterprise that says it can clone humans, and is "only holding off for fear of the public reaction."
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