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History of Stem Cell Research

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 23 Jan 2020 | comments*Discuss
Stem Cells Research History Organs Power

Stem cells have an interesting history that has been somewhat tainted with debate and controversy. In the mid 1800s it was discovered that cells were basically the building blocks of life and that some cells had the ability to produce other cells.

Attempts were made to fertilise mammalian eggs outside of the human body and in the early 1900s, it was discovered that some cells had the ability to generate blood cells.

In 1968, the first bone marrow transplant was performed to successfully treat two siblings with severe combined immunodeficiency. Other key events in stem cell research include:20px break

  • 1978: Stem cells were discovered in human cord blood
  • 1981: First in vitro stem cell line developed from mice
  • 1988: Embryonic stem cell lines created from a hamster
  • 1995: First embryonic stem cell line derived from a primate
  • 1997: Cloned lamb from stem cells
  • 1997: Leukaemia origin found as haematopoietic stem cell, indicating possible proof of cancer stem cells
In 1998, Thompson, from the University of Wisconsin, isolated cells from the inner cell mass of early embryos and developed the first embryonic stem cell lines. During that exact same year, Gearhart, from Johns Hopkins University, derived germ cells from cells in foetal gonad tissue; pluripotent stem cell lines were developed from both sources. Then, in 1999 and 2000, scientists discovered that manipulating adult mouse tissues could produce different cell types. This meant that cells from bone marrow could produce nerve or liver cells and cells in the brain could also yield other cell types. These discoveries were exciting for the field of stem cell research, with the promise of greater scientific control over stem cell differentiation and proliferation.

Bogus Findings

The unfortunate reality of this enormous breadth of information, however, is that scientists may fabricate studies and findings. This was the case in 2004 to 2005, when Hwang Woo-Suk, a Korean researcher, claimed to have produced human embryonic stem cell lines from unfertilised human eggs. The lines were eventually shown to be completely false and therefore fabricated, but the huge international scandal left the public doubtful and mistrusting of the scientific community.

More recently, in 2005, scientists at Kingston University in England were purported to have found another category of stem cells. These were named cord blood embryonic-like stem cells, which originate in umbilical cord blood. It is suggested that these stem cells have the ability to differentiate into more cell types than adult stem cells, opening up greater possibilities for cell-based therapies. Then, in early 2007, researchers led by Dr. Anthony Atala claimed that a new type of stem cell had been isolated in amniotic fluid. This finding is particularly important because these stem cells could prove to be a viable alternative to the controversial use of embryonic stem cells.

Over the last few years, national policies and debate amongst the public as well as religious groups, government officials and scientists have led to various laws and procedures regarding stem cell harvesting, development and treatment for research or disease purposes. The goals of such policies are to safeguard the public from unethical stem cell research and use while still supporting new advancements in the field.


Stem cell research has now progressed dramatically and there are countless research studies published each year in scientific journals. Adult stem cells are already being used to treat many conditions such as heart disease and leukaemia. Researchers still have a long way to go before they completely control the regulation of stem cells. The potential is overwhelmingly positive and with continued support and research, scientists will ideally be able to harness the full power of stem cells to Treat Diseases that you or a loved one may suffer from one day.

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XSS - 23-Jan-20 @ 9:31 PM
The illegal use of ANIMAL STEM CELLS for human therapeutics is not mentioned. There are a few groups who are promoting Animal Stem Cells, even though a lots of published work highlights and points to the NEGATIVE effects of animal stem cells due to presence of XENO antigens (such as NEU5GC) in animal cells. Humans lack this antigen and thus respond with immune reactions. There should be a specuiakl mention in this write up about Animal Stem cells, their sources, and their serious side effects as well as regulatory status of using animal stem cells in various countries.
bill - 27-Dec-19 @ 7:14 PM
My wife has AD; injecting her own MSCs is reversing her AD
Gary - 21-Aug-19 @ 12:50 AM
Please I want the Number of the following Article (History of Stem Cell Research) by (Ian Murnaghan BSc (Hons), MSc - Updated: 11 Jun 2018 ) because I want it as A reference.
khedr - 10-Jul-18 @ 10:10 AM
I am in love with Stem Cells because I am marketing Stem Cells for Superlife world. Pls I need more information about Stem Cells.
Prof - 11-Jun-18 @ 10:51 PM
Great info but when was it discovered and by who?
BOOMBOXPARADE - 3-May-18 @ 1:55 PM
i find this website so useful as it has useful info :)
ash - 20-Apr-18 @ 10:33 PM
my name ryan and im sorry about running this with all the fake people i reallly hope that the webstite delets this all the regret
autismsms - 9-Mar-18 @ 3:23 AM
I live in the U.S. where the FDA and the army of doctors who support that political entity oppose stem cell therapy, instead, they push hip replacement which I will not do. I have advanced hip osteoarthritis and have had two PRP (Plasma Rich) injections at a cost of $2,500 each since no insurance co. will pay for this. I feel very little relief so I was prescribed anti inflammatory with all the side effects you can think of, so I take one pill when I cannot deal with the pain. A hip replacement where I live costs about $32,000 and the insurance co. only pay part of the cost. I am sure that a stem cell treatment is cheaper and this is one of the reasons that the FDA does not approve this therapy.
Vicky - 23-Apr-17 @ 6:33 PM
This is to bring to awareness that there is patent on adult stem cell research and its human use in 60 patients (US international patent no. 6227202&. 20020007223). This is with effect from 1995 from India patent granted in 2001 & 2003 wef 1995. The research articles published in various peer reviewed international journals also, eg ASAIO journal 2003, Ann N Y A S 1998, IJEBiol in 2000, 2002 etc. The technique has been included in text books like R. Maingots Abdominal operations in 1997 and text book of Gynec in 2010. It is surprising that why these facts are ignored.
Matapurkar - 6-Dec-16 @ 3:12 PM
Human domain stem cells can be renew unlimited so I believed that human embryo stem cell didn't die in a living human body and it produces them and them can be renew unlimited. On human domain stem cells, see "Human Domain Stem Cell" from Google.
Ben - 29-Oct-16 @ 5:23 PM
Why didn't you save Harambe with this technology???
Jobbo - 5-Aug-16 @ 12:50 AM
I'm not sure if the author (Ian Murnaghan) can see this, but I was wondering if there was any way to get in contact with him. Email, messaging, anything would help.
Student101 - 10-Apr-16 @ 9:07 PM
This article really helped my research project.
StemCellProjectWrite - 14-Jan-16 @ 7:31 PM
I'm researching stem cells for my biology class and I was wondering if I could possibly find who discovered the fact that stem cells could reproduce? This is the excerpt that I believe is missing some credit as to who it was: "Stem cells have an interesting history that has been somewhat tainted with debate and controversy. In the mid 1800s it was discovered that cells were basically the building blocks of life and that some cells had the ability to produce other cells." I would like to know who discovered that cells were basically the building blocks of life and that some cells had the ability to produce other cells. (Just so you know - I have basic knowledge on the history of the Cell Theory) ~Jojo
Jojo - 13-Nov-15 @ 7:33 AM
Stem cell research has stepped into a new era.
Chloe - 12-Nov-15 @ 5:03 AM
well, its a good discovery in the fields of bio-technology but why isn't it taken into practise these days!!!
ugdekichaman - 11-Nov-15 @ 1:02 PM
Hope more improvement will be made in the stem cell research.
Cells - 2-Nov-15 @ 3:40 AM
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Ramen Sarkar - 18-Jun-15 @ 7:26 PM
helped me in my project thanx
tera baap - 17-May-15 @ 9:46 AM
this website has help me wiuth my work alot. it would help more if yall put a list of con and pros to help people see the bad and good side of stem cell research.
almighty.king.jay - 25-Mar-15 @ 4:18 PM
This is quite helpful. Thank you. It has helped me with my work but not all of it.
Bobby - 1-Dec-14 @ 4:23 PM
I would like to say that this is a great website. In my biology class, I am making a brochure about stem cells and I have found that this website is a great source of information.
Adil Ahmed 255 - 20-Nov-14 @ 10:48 AM
@Yusef - I'm not sure about the first animal trial but the The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first clinical trial in the United States involving human embryonic stem cells on January 23, 2009. Ten patients suffering from spinal cord injuries participated in the trial. However, the trial was delayed by the FDA after cysts were found on mice previously injected with the cells. The aim was to see whether product derived from human embryonic stem cells, would stimulate nerve growth in patients with debilitating damage to the spinal cord. I hope this helps.
ExploreStemCells - 22-Oct-14 @ 2:18 PM
I want to ask about discovery of stem cells, first animal trial and first clinical trial on human. Thank you
Yusuf Syed - 22-Oct-14 @ 1:30 PM
Where are your sources? It seems as though it was done with little effort put into it (the spelling errors, the way it ended off, it's missing a lot of information). Please fix this, students may end up using incorrect information
amaad - 22-Oct-14 @ 1:27 PM
Where are your sources? It seems as though it was done with little effort put into it (the spelling errors, the way it ended off, it's missing a lot of information). Please fix this, students may end up using incorrect information
dgdsfbgf - 22-Sep-14 @ 3:18 PM
is this true ? or is this really sure because im going to report something on this part , about how the SCT had begun pls answer me . thanks well
coline - 9-Aug-14 @ 2:13 PM
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