White Paper Jan 26, 2012
Human embryonic stem (ES) cells capture the imagination because they are immortal and have an almost unlimited developmental potential. After many months of growth in culture dishes, these remarkable cells maintain the ability to form cells ranging from muscle to nerve to blood — potentially any cell type that makes up the body. The proliferative and developmental potential of human ES cells promises an essentially unlimited supply of specific cell types for basic research and for transplantation therapies for diseases ranging from heart disease to Parkinson’s disease to leukemia. Here we discuss the origin and properties of human ES cells, their implications for basic research and human medicine, and recent research progress since August 2001, when President George W. Bush allowed federal funding of this research for the first time.