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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 stem cell agency approves $30 million to fast-track clinical trialsby David JensenThe Sacramento BeeOctober 19th, 2016Dubbed the new “pitching machine,” CIRM on Wednesday completed creation of a $30 million effort to dramatically speed up FDA approval of stem cell therapies.
What Stem Cell Researchers Talk About When They Talk About Ethicsby Danielle VentonKQEDOctober 18th, 2016"Biology is really complicated! 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, 2016Research 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 ZimmerNew York TimesOctober 5th, 2016Despite improvements in modern life and medicine, researchers claim that humans have reached the upper limit of longevity.
With New Program, DARPA To Encourage Safety "Brakes" For Gene Editingby Alex LashXconomyOctober 5th, 2016The US military R&D agency has launched a funding program called "Safe Genes" to find "safety measures that don’t slow us down."
Corporate Culture Has No Place in Academiaby Olof HallonstenNature NewsOctober 3rd, 2016A scandal at the Karolinska Institute demonstrates the risks of academic capitalism: a global trend that turns universities into businesses.
Controversial Human Embryo Editing: 5 Things to Know[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Rachael RettnerLiveScienceSeptember 23rd, 2016Basic CRISPR experiments in human embryos in Sweden raise questions about passing clear rules against using edited germ cells for reproduction and oversight.
The Newly Found Innocence of Paolo Macchiariniby Leonid SchneiderFor Better ScienceSeptember 23rd, 2016Suspicious justifications underlie recent university, media, and government defenses of the controversial stem cell surgeon.
Breaking Taboo, Swedish Scientist Seeks To Edit DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Rob SteinNPRSeptember 22nd, 2016Using CRISPR gene editing on human embryos is a step toward attempts at producing genetically modified humans. It's not a step to be taken lightly.
Stem Cell Advocates and Critics Push Back on FDA Guidelinesby Alexandra OssolaScientific AmericanSeptember 21st, 2016"After these public meetings the FDA may...send a signal that it is indeed going to rein in the dangerous stem cell clinic industry for real."
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