Stem Cells

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can be induced to develop into specialized tissue types. They can be derived from a number of cellular sources: adult, fetal, and placental tissues; umbilical cord blood; and embryos. Additionally, cellular reprogramming of body cells can create “induced pluripotent stem cells” that seem to have the full powers of embryonic stem cells. Researchers are investigating how to isolate stem cells from these different sources, culture them, and control their differentiation, in the hope of using them to investigate a variety of biological processes, develop new drugs, and treat a range of diseases.

Human embryonic stem cell research has been politically controversial in the U.S. and some other countries. Some object to any research that destroys human embryos, while others accept investigations that use embryos created but not used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. In response to restrictions on federal funding, some U.S. states, notably California, have invested large sums in this research.

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. Though some customers report improvements, others have been blinded or experienced unusual cancerous growths.

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And she isn’t the only one.

Last year, a 77-year-old woman traveled to a clinic in Georgia to have stem cells injected in her eyes. She came in hope of a cure—or at least something that could help her macular...

Biopolitical Times

California has enacted a law that begins to provide a framework for regulating the dozens of state stem cell clinics currently peddling treatments whose safety and effectiveness are dubious at best. The law, which sailed through Sacramento unopposed, goes into effect on January 1, 2018, and requires clinics to notify patients in writing if the treatments they offer have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. It’s a start, but it’s only one small step in the...

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California now has a first-of-its-kind stem cell law that requires clinics pitching non-FDA approved stem cell offerings to be upfront...


For the first time, scientists have edited the DNA in human embryos to make a fundamental discovery about the earliest...

Close-up of a human stem cell surrounded by chemicals

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Excited Baltimore Ravens fans are standing behind a fence hoping to get their gear signed.

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Against a black background, golden numbers and tick marks suggesting a clock, spiral into the center.

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Model of an egg surrounded by sperm, and illuminated by a light angled from above.

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