Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that researchers can induce to develop into specialized tissue types. Human stem cells can be derived from adult, fetal, and placental tissues; umbilical cord blood; and embryos. Researchers use them to study biological processes, develop new drugs, and treat a range of diseases.
Human embryonic stem cell research became politically controversial in the 2000s because some people object to any research that destroys human embryos. Restrictions imposed in 2001 on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research were lifted in 2009. Several states, notably including California, made large public investments in this research while federal funding was restricted.
Exaggerated promises and hopes about stem cell-based procedures have led to a proliferation of unlicensed clinics in the U.S. and elsewhere selling purported stem cell treatments that have not been tested by independent scientists or approved by regulatory authorities.
Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
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