Key dates in stem cell research

  • Breakthrough of the year

    The editors of Science, the journal devoted to scientific and medical matters, called stem cell research the "breakthrough of the year." The magazine says stem cell technology "raises hopes of dazzling medical applications."
  • Scientists clone human embryo to make stem cells

    Scientists at a private lab create a six-cell embryo by removing DNA from a human egg and injecting it with the DNA of a skin cell. It was the same process used to clone Dolly the sheep. The company – Advanced Cell Technology – said the purpose was to produce genetically matched replacement cells for patients with a wide range of diseases.
  • Stem cell guidelines 'strike a delicate balance'

    The Canadian Institutes of Health Research unveils guidelines on stem cell research. They include a ban on public funding on research that could lead to cloning, as well as a ban on creating embryos simply for research purposes. It also bans payments to obtain embryos for research.
  • Scientists find baby teeth rich in stem cells

    U.S. researchers find that baby teeth, the temporary teeth children begin to lose about age six, contain a rich supply of stem cells. The findings suggest stem cells from baby teeth behave much like stem cells harvested from umbilical cord blood, another early developmental source. The team speculates they may have found an important and easily accessible source of stem cells to repair damaged teeth, induce bone regeneration and treat neural injury or disease such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.
  • Canadian researcher creates country's first embryonic stem cell lines

    Canadian researcher creates country's first embryonic stem cell lines
    In Toronto, Dr. Andras Nagy creates Canada’s first embryonic stem cell lines from donated embryos. The embryos were no longer required for reproduction by couples undergoing fertility treatment. The research plays a pivotal role in a discovery Nagy would make almost four years later: the creation of embryonic stem cells from human skin, a process that "reprograms" cells.
    (Sheila Whyte/CBC)
  • Reprogramming cells

    Reprogramming cells
    Japanese researcher Shinya Yaminaka shows that only four particular genes are required to create what are called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The discovery opens the door to "reprogramming" existing cells to create stem cells without using human embryos.
  • Biotech company makes stem cells without destroying embryos

    U.S. biotech company Advanced Cell Technology says it has found a way to remove a single cell from a human embryo and spawn an embryonic stem cell line without destroying the embryo. With only one cell removed, the embryo retains its full potential for development.
  • Stem cell injections fight muscular dystrophy in dogs

    A study published online in the journal Nature finds that stem cells worked remarkably well at easing symptoms of muscular dystrophy in dogs. The U.S. Muscular Dystrophy Association called the finding the most exciting in eight years. The researchers cautioned that it's not clear whether the treatment would work in people.
  • Scientists isolate new stem cell source in amniotic fluid

    A team of U.S. researchers isolates stem cells from amniotic fluid and placental tissue left over from routine prenatal tests used to detect fetal abnormalities. They find that about one per cent of all the cells were stem cells, but of a kind not previously identified. The AFS cells have characteristics of both human embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. But they do not form tumours when implanted in lab animals, as embryonic cells can do.
  • Canadian researchers 'create' leukemia stem cell, watch disease unfold

    A team of Canadian researchers reports that it has converted normal human blood cells into leukemia stem cells, then transplanted them into lab mice and watched the disease unfold. Lead researcher John Dick said this window into leukemia's development will allow scientists to ask, and hopefully answer, some "very interesting questions."
  • Stem cells without embryos

    Stem cells without embryos
    Research reported by three different groups shows that normal skin cells can be reprogrammed to an embryonic state – at least in mice. Before the discovery of the new technique, embryonic stem cells were created by implanting DNA into an egg, which would then grow to provide a supply of stem cells. But to harvest them, the viable embryo would have to be destroyed.
    (Shinya Yamanaka/Associated Press)
  • Brits approve human-animal embryo research

    British regulators agree in principle to allow human-animal embryos to be created and used for research. The decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority would allow the fusion of human-animal embryos, also known as chimeras, to create stem cells. The research focuses on a specific aspect of chimerism that would involve removing the nucleus from animal egg cells and replacing it with human DNA.
  • Reprogramming human cells

    Reprogramming human cells
    In the journal Cell, Shinya Yamanaka and Kazutoshi Takahashi report they were able to produce pluripotent stem cells generated from mature human fibroblasts. That means it's possible to produce stem cells from almost any other human cell. But some researchers say it may not replace the need for embryonic stem cells.
    (Shinya Yamanaka/Associated Press)
  • Scientists create stem cells for 10 disorders

    Scientists at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute report that they have created stem cells for 10 genetic disorders, which will allow researchers to watch diseases develop in a lab dish. They say it could speed up efforts to find effective treatments. The development was reported in the journal Cell. The researchers used ordinary skin cells and bone marrow from people with a variety of diseases, including Parkinson's, Huntington's and Down syndrome to produce stem cells.
  • Woman first to have trachea transplanted from own stem cells

    A team of doctors report in the journal Lancet that a woman received the world's first tailor-made transplanted trachea, grown by seeding a donor organ with her own stem cells to prevent her body rejecting it. The doctors used tissue grown from the woman's bone marrow. The procedure could pave the way for transplanting other organs without the use of anti-rejection drugs that suppress the immune system.
  • Lab tests suggest stem cells may reverse paralysis

    A study published in the journal Stem Cells finds that transplanting stem cells from the lining of the spinal cord reverses paralysis associated with spinal cord injuries in lab tests. The transplanted cells regenerated 10 times faster in animals with spinal cord injuries than in healthy animals.
  • Reprogramming cells

    Reprogramming cells
    In a study published in the online journal Nature, Canadian researchers describe how they generated embryonic-like stem cells from adult human tissue. The process "reprograms" cells. The research was led by Dr. Andras Nagy of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. The process could eventually cure diseases such as spinal cord injuries and Parkinson's.
    (Sheila Whyte/CBC)
  • U.S. changes course

    U.S. changes course
    U.S. President Barack Obama reverses restrictions on stem cell research imposed by former President George W. Bush. Obama's order clears the way for federal funding of research using embryonic stem cells. The new rules, which came into effect on July 7, 2009, expand the number of stem cell lines available to researchers from 20 to about 700.
  • Stem cell transplants improve survival for leukemia patients

    A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that survival rates for people with acute myeloid leukemia – the most common form of acute leukemia – can be improved through stem cell transplants for people with poor and intermediate risk AML. The researchers said the results were significant enough to consider making stem cell transplants standard treatment for some people.
  • British scientists create sperm-like cells

    British scientists create sperm-like cells
    Researchers at Newcastle University and the NorthEast England Stem Cell Institute take human embryonic stem cells and turn them into sperm-like cells that have moving tails. Lead researcher Karim Nayernia says the technique could one day help treat infertile couples. Current British law forbids the use of lab-created sperm or eggs in fertility treatments.
    (Scott Heppell/Associated Press)