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Stem Cells

Summary

Stem cells are cells with the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body. They serve as a repair system for the body. There are two main types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.

Stem cells are different from other cells in the body in three ways:

  • They can divide and renew themselves over a long time
  • They are unspecialized, so they cannot do specific functions in the body
  • They have the potential to become specialized cells, such as muscle cells, blood cells, and brain cells

Doctors and scientists are excited about stem cells because they could help in many different areas of health and medical research. Studying stem cells may help explain how serious conditions such as birth defects and cancer come about. Stem cells may one day be used to make cells and tissues for therapy of many diseases. Examples include Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

NIH: National Institutes of Health

Start Here

  • (International Society for Stem Cell Research)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Related Issues

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (National Marrow Donor Program)
  • (Food and Drug Administration)
  • (National Marrow Donor Program)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research)
  • (National Marrow Donor Program)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (International Society for Stem Cell Research)
  • (National Marrow Donor Program)
  • (American Cancer Society) Also in

Specifics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • (National Marrow Donor Program)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Clinical Center) - PDF
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Clinical Center) - PDF
  • (Health Resources and Services Administration)
  • (International Society for Stem Cell Research)
  • (American Cancer Society)
  • (International Society for Stem Cell Research)
  • (American Cancer Society)

Videos and Tutorials

  • From the National Institutes of Health Video (National Cancer Institute)

Statistics and Research

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in
  • (National Marrow Donor Program)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
  • (Health Resources and Services Administration)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Find an Expert

  • From the National Institutes of Health Also in

Children

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Teenagers

  • (Nemours Foundation)

Patient Handouts

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