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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.

End ‘stem cell tourism,’ experts urgeby Michael CookBioEdgeNovember 14th, 2015Stem cell scientists appear to have oversold their product. Now patients, tired of waiting for the cures they were promised, are seeking unproven stem cell-based treatments that are causing more harm than good.
Eggs unlimitedby Jennifer Couzin-FrankelScienceNovember 6th, 2015OvaScience's fertility procedure appalls some reproductive biologists, and is currently not permitted in the US. But the company is marketing its treatment in Canada and some analysts are upbeat.
[Australia] Stem cell experts urge ethical debate over embryo creationby Anna SallehABC ScienceOctober 13th, 2015Scientists pursuing basic research with pluripotent stem cells may soon be able to grow a cell structure that would resemble a three- to four-week embryo.
First 'in womb' stem cell trial to beginby James GallagherBBCOctober 12th, 2015A UK clinical trial injecting fetal stem cells into babies still in the womb will attempt to lessen symptoms of an incurable brittle bone diseases.
Sky-high price of new stem cell therapies is a growing concernby Michael HiltzikLos Angeles TimesOctober 9th, 2015Late-stage clinical trials of two treatments backed by California's $6-billion stem cell program are underway. Will Californians be able to afford them?
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.
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