Genetics News—Breakthrough of 1999: Human Stem Cells On 6 November 1998 Thomson and colleagues  reported and Gearhart (1998)  and also Marshall (1998a)  discussed the derivation of stem cell lines from human embryos. This accomplishment was important for experimental clinical applications because embryonic stem (ES) cells are undifferentiated but have the potential to differentiate into various tissue types ... SIG News
SIG News  |   August 01, 2000
Genetics News—Breakthrough of 1999: Human Stem Cells
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ralph Shelton
    Speech and Hearing Sciences Department, University of Arizona, Tucson
Article Information
SIG News
SIG News   |   August 01, 2000
Genetics News—Breakthrough of 1999: Human Stem Cells
SIG 5 Perspectives on Speech Science and Orofacial Disorders, August 2000, Vol. 10, 2-8. doi:10.1044/ssod10.1.2
SIG 5 Perspectives on Speech Science and Orofacial Disorders, August 2000, Vol. 10, 2-8. doi:10.1044/ssod10.1.2
On 6 November 1998 Thomson and colleagues  reported and Gearhart (1998)  and also Marshall (1998a)  discussed the derivation of stem cell lines from human embryos. This accomplishment was important for experimental clinical applications because embryonic stem (ES) cells are undifferentiated but have the potential to differentiate into various tissue types and perhaps organs for transplant. They can proliferate in vitro and be maintained in laboratory cultures (Bloom, 1999; Marshall, 1998b  and c; Vogel, 1999a). Indeed, research involving human ES cells and other stem cells was presented as the scientific breakthrough of the year (Science, 1999). Bloom discussed the potential of stem cell use for formation of organ-specific tissues and their use in replacing diseased tissues. ES cell research with mice was said to have contributed to understanding of gene function. A shift in research emphasis from mice to humans was anticipated. Bloom wrote, “although embryonic stem cells may have maximum potential, researchers are also learning to manipulate stem cells from adults, which are more accessible and can develop into a surprisingly broad repertoire of cell types.” Bloom noted the importance of ethical considerations and asked, “rules should govern the donation of unneeded and unimplanted embryos from in vitro fertilization for use as sources of embryonic stem cells?” Expanding on the breakthrough of the year, Vogel (1999b, p. 2238) wrote that “…stem cells from adults retain the youthful ability to become several different kinds of tissues. Brain cells can become blood cells, and cells from bone marrow can become liver.”
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