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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.



Woman Receives First Stem Cell Therapy Using Her Own Skin Cellsby Alice ParkTimeSeptember 12th, 2014A Japanese woman is the first to receive retinal cells made from her own skin cells.
New Details Emerge on Retracted STAP Papersby David CyranoskiNature News BlogSeptember 11th, 2014New leaked e-mails showing the comments of referees for Science and Nature provide more insight into the saga of the STAP papers.
Revolving Door Policy Tightened at California Stem Cell Agency by David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportSeptember 10th, 2014Directors of the California stem cell agency approved a measure aimed at easing conflicts of interest involving employees who may seek employment with recipients of the agency’s largess.
Next-Generation Stem Cells Cleared for Human Trialby David CyranoskiNatureSeptember 10th, 2014A Japanese patient with a debilitating eye disease is about to become the first person to be treated with induced pluripotent stem cells.
Stem cell industry's 'huge development' in Bay Areaby Stephanie M. LeeSan Francisco ChronicleAugust 29th, 2014Almost three years after Geron shut down the world's first clinical trial of a therapy using embryonic stem cells, a subsidiary of another Bay Area company is reviving the work.
Stem cell therapy a primitive artby Jill MargoFinancial ReviewAugust 27th, 2014A loophole in Australian regulations means people can be given stem cell therapy for virtually anything, providing their own stem cells are harvested and then used in the process. But much can go wrong.
Stem Cell Therapy Rogue Operators Charging Thousands for Useless or Dangerous Treatmentby Louise MilliganABCAugust 25th, 2014Rogue stem cell therapy operators are charging tens of thousands of dollars for treatments that are ineffectual or could even lead to more health problems and death, according to Australia's leading group of stem cell scientists.
Letter Campaign Sought to Pressure FDA Action on Stem Cell Clinicsby Elie DolginNature MedicineAugust 6th, 2014Unregulated stem cell clinics are proliferating throughout the US.
STAP Stem Cell Controversy Ends in Suicide for Japanese Scientistby Karen KaplanLos Angeles TimesAugust 5th, 2014Sasai had said he was 'deeply ashamed' of the stem cell studies that were retracted in July.
Stem Cell Treatment Warnings After Australian Woman Dies in Russiaby Bridie SmithSydney Morning HeraldJuly 28th, 2014Risks of unproven stem cell treatments include allergic reaction or rejection of the cells by the patient’s immune system and the development of cancer, both of which can be fatal.
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