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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.



Disgraced stem-cell entrepreneur under fresh investigationby Alison AbbottNature NewsNovember 14th, 2016Davide Vannoni was barred from offering a controversial stem-cell therapy in Italy in 2015, but may be continuing his work abroad.
Stem Cell Clinics Promise Miracle Cures, but at What Cost to Patients?by Philip PerryBig ThinkNovember 13th, 2016Taking advantage of a regulatory loophole, hundreds of clinics with virtually no oversight are offering stem cell therapies which are virtually untested, and make unsubstantiated claims about helping patients overcome disease.
Stem Cell Researchers Anxious About Trump Presidencyby Gillian MohneyABC NewsNovember 11th, 2016Mike Pence opposes federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. But reintroducing a funding ban "would be like putting a genie back in the bottle."
Fatal experiments: a maverick surgeon strikes backby Nell FrizzellThe GuardianOctober 25th, 2016A new documentary looks at the six patients who died on Dr. Paolo Macchiarini’s watch. When does pioneering medicine become reckless endangerment?
CRISPR gene-editing controversy shows old ideas about East and West still prevailby Calvin Wai-Loon HoEcontimesOctober 24th, 2016Western imaginations tend to fantasize Asian countries as exotic, crude "others," viewing Chinese research as advancing primarily due to an assumed lack of regulation.
Crispr’s IPO doesn’t hit its targetby Robert WeismanThe Boston GlobeOctober 19th, 2016CRISPR Therapeutics' public offering raises half that of its rivals Editas & Intellia -- a sign that the market may be pulling back on genome editing stocks.
California stem cell agency approves $30 million to fast-track clinical trialsby David JensenThe Sacramento BeeOctober 19th, 2016Dubbed the new "pitching machine," CIRM's new $30 million effort is designed to accelerate clinical trials of stem cell therapies.
What Stem Cell Researchers Talk About When They Talk About Ethicsby Danielle VentonKQEDOctober 18th, 2016"Engineers who design something expect it to work. But if you put something [designed] into an organism, the chances that something odd will happen are extremely high."
Mouse eggs made from skin cells in a dishby David CyranoskiNatureOctober 17th, 2016A research breakthrough sparks debate over the prospect of using stem cell techniques to produce synthetic human eggs from body tissue.
What’s the Longest Humans Can Live? 115 Years, New Study Saysby Carl ZimmerThe New York TimesOctober 5th, 2016Despite improvements in modern life and medicine, researchers claim that humans have reached the upper limit of longevity.
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