stem cells

Stem Cell Awareness Day: October 8, 2014

Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 8, is Stem Cell Awareness Day. It’s a day to celebrate stem cells, have discussions on what stem cell research is, and learn about potential benefits and disease treatments using stem cells. Many national and international events (especially in California) are taking place to celebrate this special day — the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has a webpage summarizing these stem cell events.

To celebrate Stem Cell Awareness Day this year, we’ll take a look at stem cell-related stories that have been covered by the Biology Bytes blog. Specifically, we’ll check out some of this last year’s big stem cell news, trending stem cell-related issues in social media, exciting discoveries, and how to bring stem cell science to the K-12 classroom.

Two of the big stories from the last year have to do with pluripotent stem cells, which are stem cells that have the ability to turn into virtually any different type of mature cell in the body. This ability gives these cells great therapeutic potential.

Stem cell-related issues have also featured prominently in social media and other mainstream venues recently, including the ALS ice bucket challenge and the Supreme Court ruling related to Hobby Lobby.

  • The Science of ALS and the Irony of the Ice Bucket Challenge: While the ice bucket challenge went viral this summer, some attention was brought to the fact that a clinical trial to treat ALS utilizes a patient’s bone marrow stem cells. Check out the Biology Bytes link for details.
  • The Hobby Lobby Ruling: Contraceptives and Abortifacients: Also in the public spotlight this summer was the Supreme Court ruling that Hobby Lobby (and other for-profit companies) do not need to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives. Depending on how this ruling is interpreted in the future, it is possible that it may affect research using human embryonic stem cells, which are made using fertilized eggs.

Several other recent discoveries have been made using stem cells, discoveries that may help us improve applications, explore new technologies, and eventually create better therapeutic treatments — you can check out these stories for details:

Lastly, there are many other stem cell resources available for those wanting to know more — here are just a few:

For further reading:


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