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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’s Stem Cell Agency Considers “Editing” Human Embryosby Marcy Darnovsky Biopolitical Times February 9th, 2016Three takeaway points from CIRM’s recent meeting on human gene editing.
Stem cell agency to begin review of human genetic changes by David JensenCapitol WeeklyFebruary 5th, 2016California’s stem cell agency has embarked on what is likely to be an exhaustive review of its rules for research involving genetic alteration of human embryos.
Human Genetic Alteration and Gold Mines: California's Stem Cell Agency Takes a Hard Look at Research Standardsby David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportJanuary 27th, 2016The $3 billion California stem cell agency will convene a livestreamed day-long meeting to examine agency policies dealing with human gene editing.
Plug Pulled on Cancer Clinical Trial: Sudden End for $18 Million Push by California Stem Cell Agency by David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportJanuary 14th, 2016California’s ambitious effort to develop a stem cell therapy for a deadly form of skin cancer collapsed abruptly last week, apparently the victim of “excessively long development timelines."
Top Court Backs Sacking of Stem Cell Scientist Hwangby Yoon Min-sikThe Korea HeraldDecember 23rd, 2015The Supreme Court ruled that Seoul National University’s dismissal of Hwang Woo-suk, who fabricated his cloning research, was justifiable.
Dodgy Stem Cell Treatments, Questionable Practices Under Investigationby Janene PietersNL Times [Netherlands]December 23rd, 2015Chronically ill patients in the Netherlands are being lured into stem cell treatments for which there is no scientific proof.
Fifty New Clinical Trials, a $150 Million Partnership and Much More: California's Coming Stem Cell 'Powerhouse'by David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportDecember 17th, 2015Directors of the California stem cell agency approved an $890 million plan for the next five years to build an “industrial stem cell therapeutic powerhouse” in the Golden State.
Stem Cell Researcher to Reddit: "Ask Me Anything" on Human Genetic Modificationby Elliot Hosman, Biopolitical TimesDecember 10th, 2015UC Davis researcher Paul Knoepfler fielded 100s of questions on the social and technical implications of genetically modifying human cells.
We Need a Moratorium on Genetically Modifying Humansby Paul KnoepflerSlateNovember 30th, 2015The technology for potentially creating designer babies has progressed much faster than the deliberation of societal implications and permissible uses.
End ‘stem cell tourism,’ experts urgeby Michael CookBioEdgeNovember 14th, 2015Stem cell scientists appear to have oversold their product. Now patients, tired of waiting for the cures they were promised, are seeking unproven stem cell-based treatments that are causing more harm than good.
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