A new era of stem cell science began 25 years ago. At that time, Stanford researcher Irving Weissman, MD, and his colleagues announced in Science that they had purified hematopoietic stem cells from a mouse. This was the first “adult” (tissue specific) stem cell isolated in purified form from any species. In order to isolate the stem cells, the researchers had to identify the key cell-surface proteins that differentiated the stem cells from closely related cells and separate them from each other. They also had to develop new transplant models to show that the stem cells could produce every single type of blood an immune cell needed by the body.
Since then, researchers at Stanford and elsewhere have learned to identify and purify blood stem cells and other types of stem cells in humans, opening the door to creating stem cell therapies that researchers hope will be able to cure many intractable diseases. Today, we’re honoring this achievement as part of the observation of World Stem Cell Awareness Day.
Previously: Very small embryonic like stem cells may not exist, say Stanford researchers, Stanford’s Irving Weissman on the (lost?) promise of stem cells and Stanford study shows stem cell treatment improves survival of patients with metastatic breast cancer