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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.



Public policy must address technology’s impact[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by John M. HeinThe Sacramento BeeAugust 13th, 2016“We need to develop habits of mind, or habits of social interaction, that will allow for some very robust public participation on the use of these powerful technologies,” says Marcy Darnovsky.
Will Embryonic Stem Cells Ever Cure Anything?by Aleszu BajakMIT Technology ReviewAugust 12th, 2016The long, costly effort to cure diabetes with stem cells shows the difficulties and challenges to clinical translation.
How biotech executives profit from legal insider tradesby Damian GardeSTATAugust 8th, 2016Biotech bigwigs might be gaming an insider trading loophole to offset losses after failed clinical trials.
The surprisingly small benefit of some very (expensive) Big Ideasby Joe GibesBioethics @ TIUAugust 5th, 2016A new article in JAMA looks at the unfulfilled hype that has become entrenched the fields of stem cells, genetics, and electronic health records.
The Human Egg Business: More Media Coverage of California Cash-for-Eggs Legislation[citing CGS]by David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportAugust 5th, 2016AB2531 is backed by the fertility industry and would remove caps on payments for egg retrieval to induce women to gamble with their health.
US government may fund research to combine human cells and animal cellsAssociated Foreign PressAugust 5th, 2016"Just making these chimeric embryos 15 or 20 years ago was considered an extreme scenario," Stuart Newman comments.
Questions about Deaths in Cancer Trials using Gene-Altered Cellsby Katherine DrabiakBiopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 5th, 2016Excitement about immunotherapy and gene therapy approaches to cancer has eclipsed ethical questions about seven recent deaths in clinical trials.
Many pediatric clinical trials go unpublished or unfinishedby Ed SilvermanSTATAugust 4th, 2016A study finds that of 559 clinical trials, 19% were discontinued, and that 30% of 455 completed trials never published results. Over 69,000 children participated.
NIH Plans To Lift Ban On Research Funds For Part-Human, Part-Animal Embryosby Rob SteinNPRAugust 4th, 2016Concerns include the inadvertent creation of animals with partly human brains, endowing them with some semblance of human consciousness or human thinking abilities. (Public comment until September 4.)
Bill to expand market in women’s egg donations would undermine safeguards[citing CGS]by Deborah OrtizSacramento BeeAugust 4th, 2016Let’s not repeal a law that safeguards the health of women. We can support biomedical research without putting women’s health at risk.
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