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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.

A $6 Billion Question: Affordability of California's Stem Cell Therapiesby David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportSeptember 23rd, 2015The California stem cell agency will cost taxpayers $6 billion by 2020. But the agency isn't discussing what any therapies are likely to cost, or whether it should focus on affordable treatments.
State agency forming big stem-cell bank to help find curesby Kevin SchultzSan Francisco ChronicleSeptember 1st, 2015Thousands of cell lines created induced pluripotent stem cells will be made available to researchers.
China Announces Stem-Cell Rulesby David CyranoskiNature NewsAugust 26th, 2015Long-awaited measures by the Chinese government aim to rein in rogue stem cell clinics while allowing clinical studies. It’s uncertain whether the new approach will fare better than prior regulations.
Cutting-Edge Technology and Mitochondrial Diseases - Where is the Limit?by Dusko IlicBioNewsJuly 27th, 2015In their latest study, Shoukrat Mitalipov and collaborators report on two potential 'gene correction' strategies that can help patients with mitochondrial diseases.
Mitochondria Swapby  Kate YandellThe ScientistJuly 15th, 2015Researchers have generated patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells corrected for mitochondrial defects, but no immediate clinical application is in sight.
Stanford Stem Cell Product, Delayed for More than a Decade, to be Tested Againby Lisa M. KriegerSan Jose Mercury NewsJune 14th, 2015A quarter-century after Irv Weissman conceived a method to regenerate patients' blood-forming systems after high-dose chemotherapy, the technique is finally back in his hands - although Novartis still holds the patent.
California Stem Cell Agency Symposium: 'Vague Fears' vs. Potential Genetic Alteration of Human Race[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportJune 11th, 2015California’s $3 billion stem cell agency has called a high-level meeting for next fall to examine a "red-hot" issue that many researchers say could lead to alteration of the human race.
CIRM Pursues “Prudent Path” Forward with Genome Editing Technologiesby Jonathan ThomasThe Stem CellarJune 1st, 2015CIRM Board Chair Jonathan Thomas will convene a public workshop on genome editing technologies this November.
$15 Million for Calimmune and California Stem Cell HIV Trialby David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportMay 27th, 2015Calimmune, Inc., which has received $8.3 million from the California stem cell agency, announced it has rustled up another $15 million to help out with the work that the agency is backing.
Stem Cell 'Wild West' Takes Root Amid Lack of US Regulationby Matthew PerroneAssociated PressMay 18th, 2015More than 170 US clinics are selling experimental stem cell procedures — a mushrooming industry that has flourished despite little evidence of its safety or effectiveness.
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