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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.



California Lawsuit Charges StemCells, Inc., with Putting Patients at Riskby David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportJuly 16th, 2014A former senior manager at StemCells, Inc. has filed a lawsuit alleging that “deficiencies in the company's cell lines put patients at risk of infection or death during clinical trials.”
Injured Argentine Winger Angel Di Maria may be Resorting to Unproven Stem Cell Therapyby Lenny BernsteinWashington PostJuly 11th, 2014Get ready for another explosion of interest in stem cell therapy, a now familiar occurrence every time a famous athlete undergoes the treatment.
Shameful Conflicts of Interest Involving California's Stem Cell Agencyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 9th, 2014The former President of CIRM just took a job on the board of a company that benefited from the agency's grants, highlighting the conflicts of interest that have always bedeviled the agency.
Stem Cell Treatment Causes Nasal Growth in Woman's Backby Clare WilsonNew ScientistJuly 8th, 2014A woman in the US has developed a tumour-like growth eight years after a stem cell treatment to cure her paralysis failed.
Former CEO of California Stem Cell Agency Named to Board of Firm that Received $19 Million From the Agencyby  David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportJuly 7th, 2014Alan Trounson has been named to the board of a company that has received $19.4 million from the agency he recently headed, raising fresh and serious questions about conflicts of interest at the state-funded research program.
On Meta-Research and the STAP Fiascoby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 7th, 2014The authors of the ballyhooed STAP papers have reluctantly agreed to retract them; meanwhile Stanford is launching a project to investigate the process of research.
Research Integrity: Cell-Induced Stressby David CyranoskiNature NewsJuly 3rd, 2014Two papers that offered a major breakthrough in stem-cell biology were retracted mired in a controversy that has damaged the reputation of several Japanese researchers.
Review of Mitalipov Group Nature Paper: Cloned ES Cells Versus iPS Cellsby Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogJuly 2nd, 2014Given the power, flexibility, and relative ease of making iPS cells, is there good reason to go to all that trouble to make NT ES cells?
Banking on iPSCsby Kerry GrensThe ScientistJune 30th, 2014A flurry of induced pluripotent stem cell banks are coming online, but they face significant business challenges.
Hype and Hope: Illuminating the Reality of Stem Cell Treatments[Quotes Biopolitical Times contributor Pete Shanks]by David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportJune 27th, 2014Several recent efforts from within the stem cell community highlight the risks of dubious, expensive stem cell treatments that are being offered domestically and internationally.
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