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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.



Unproven Stem Cell Clinics Proliferate in the U.S.by Dina Fine MaronScientific AmericanJune 30th, 2016570 websites advertise unproven therapies for sports injuries and conditions including autism, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Updates: The California Legislature and the Market in Human Eggsby Marcy Darnovsky Biopolitical TimesJune 30th, 2016The fertility industry-sponsored bill is opposed by a range of women’s health, reproductive justice, and public interest organizations.
On the 14-Day Rule and Other Limitsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 29th, 2016Speed limits are somewhat arbitrary but sensible; so is the 14-day rule for embryo research.
Stem Cell Scientist Suspected of Involuntary Manslaughterby Karl RitterABC NewsJune 22nd, 2016A disgraced stem cell scientist is facing preliminary charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection with two patients who died after windpipe transplants.
Stem Cells: Where Science, Hope and Hype Meetby Danielle VentonKQED NewsJune 22nd, 2016California voters "were led to believe...that stem cell therapies were miraculous cures that were right around the corner...but that didn’t really reflect scientific reality."
A Cautionary Tale of "Stem Cell Tourism"by Gina KolataThe New York TimesJune 22nd, 2016A patient who sought dubious stem cell therapies now has an aggressive tumor in his spine that doctors don't know how to treat.
California stem-cell institute’s political gambleby Paul KnoepflerSan Francisco ChronicleJune 16th, 2016Why is the state agency lobbying for a radical departure in how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration vets experimental stem-cell therapies?
Stem cell factory opens door for trials of personalized diabetes treatment by Andrew JosephStat NewsJune 16th, 2016The proposed treatment for type 1 diabetes, based on induced pluripotent stem cells, could enter clinical trials in a few years.
How iPS cells changed the worldby Megan ScudellariNatureJune 15th, 2016Though therapies using induced pluripotent stem cells have proved challenging, iPS cells have become important for modelling and investigating human diseases, as well as for screening drugs.
The Politics of Women’s Eggsby Diane ToberUndarkJune 10th, 2016A California bill would allow researchers to obtain eggs by paying women to provide them, though little research exists on the procedure's long-term health impacts.
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