What is Stem Cell Research?
advances in biomedical research have raised the hope of curing diseases such
as Parkinson's Disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, AIDS, spinal cord injury, heart
failure and cancer. These diseases are the result of the death of specific
types of cells,
cells and the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. For reasons not entirely
understood, the dead cells are not automatically replaced by new cells.
This is in contrast to other tissues,
such as skin and blood, that routinely replace dying cells with new cells.
The new cells that can replace the dead cells are recruited from a reserve
of cells that have maintained the potential to divide and multiply when called
upon. They have also maintained the potential to mature into the specific
of cell that is needed. Such cells with the lasting ability to divide and mature
into new functional cells when needed are termed Stem Cells.
More! Watch Quicktime Shorts about the 3 kinds of pluripotent stem
have discovered that stem cells can be grown to high numbers in laboratory
culture dishes, and then encouraged to differentiate
into specific cell types, such as heart muscle cells and nerves. Experiments
with laboratory mice have demonstrated that the stem cells grown in laboratories
can replace the dead cells in organs such as heart, which apparently does not
have its own supply of stem cells. These encouraging results have spawned numerous
studies to learn to apply stem cell therapy to humans.
The principle problem facing biomedical scientists
studying stem cells is a source of stem cells for the tissues and organs
that do not
have their own supply. Alternate sources of stem cells are fetal tissues and
abandoned, frozen embryos in infertility clinics. These sources are morally
unacceptable to many U.S. citizens and the research has been stalled by moral
outrage and lack of government funding.
Until more advances are made in understanding how
adult cells to become stem cells, the best way to accomplish this is to use
human eggs. Some methods of generating human stem cells from human eggs do not
require that the eggs be fertilized by sperm. Although still controversial,
the use of unfertilized human eggs to generate stem cells is more acceptable
to many U.S. citizens.
To advance the treatment opportunities, the Foundation
is raising funds to help bridge the gap created by the lack of government
Foundation hopes to fund and carry on innovative projects to discover how to
produce stem cells from unfertilized human eggs.
For the Foundation's Egg Program Guidelines click here.
Embryonic Stem Cells
Human Cloning Report by
the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
House of Representatives Human Cloning Packet,
Letter to Nature, Dr. Ann Kiessling; Author
Parthenogenetic Stem Cells in Nonhuman Primates
Nonhuman primate parthenogenetic stem cells
- article 2
Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer in Humans
Science Article; Patients Voices, Powerful Sound in the Stem Cell Debate
Links to sites with additional information
for the Advancement of Medical Research
Christopher Reeves Foundation
Institutes of Health - The NIH stem cell information database.
Diabetes Research Foundation
Advanced Cell Technology
Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)