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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.



Stem Cell 'Wild West' Takes Root Amid Lack of US RegulationAssociated PressMay 18th, 2015More than 170 clinics across the country are selling experimental stem cell procedures for dozens of diseases and conditions — a mushrooming industry that has flourished despite little evidence of its safety or effectiveness.
Scientists Stumble Across Unknown Stem-Cell Typeby Sara ReardonNatureMay 6th, 2015"Region-selective" pluripotent cells raise the possibility of growing human organs in animals.
Stigma Around ‘Non-Traditional’ Families Won’t End With Assisted Reproductive Technologyby Bianca CampbellRH Reality CheckMay 5th, 2015"I wonder if this assisted reproductive technology will be truly accessible to me and my community, and if it reinforces a nuclear family ideal that further stigmatizes our choices."
US Stem Cell Clinics, Patient Safety, and the FDAby Leigh TurnerTrends in Molecular MedicineMay 1st, 2015Fatal outcomes, complications, and lawsuits have not slowed the rapid spread of businesses promoting unapproved stem cell interventions.
A Look Inside a Stem Cell Clinic Infomercial Eventby David BrafmanKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogApril 29th, 2015Over the past several years there has been a proliferation of so-called stem cell ‘clinics’, which promise patients miraculous therapies often for currently incurable diseases and disorders.
Seeking Your Input: Survey on Egg Retrievalby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorApril 22nd, 2015We are surveying women’s knowledge and attitudes toward egg retrieval to yield critical insights into how best to frame health information intended to enable women to make informed choices.
Hype, Money and Stem Cellsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 9th, 2015Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times used newly published research to write a scathing article largely focused on the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
New Study: Stem Cell Field is Infected with Hypeby Michael HiltzikLos Angeles TimesMarch 31st, 2015Stem cell researchers often ply journalists with "unrealistic timelines" for the development of stem cell therapies, and journalists often swallow these claims uncritically.
New DNA Tech: Creating Unicorns and Curing Cancer for Real?by David Ewing DuncanThe Daily BeastMarch 30th, 2015We have the earth-shattering technology in our hands—but even its inventors worry about its awesome power to alter our genetic future.
The Price Of Hype: The Public Now Has Unrealistic Timelines For Scienceby Hank CampbellScience 2.0March 11th, 2015Today, people think stem cell therapies already exist. It's not science journalists and bloggers framing this for political gain. The culprits are scientists playing up their research.
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