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Stem Cell Information

Stem Cell Basics

This primer on stem cells is intended for anyone who wishes to learn more about the biological properties of stem cells, the important questions about stem cells that are the focus of scientific research, and the potential use of stem cells in research and in treating disease. The primer includes information about stem cells derived from embryonic and non-embryonic tissues. Much of the information included here is about stem cells derived from human tissues, but some studies of animal-derived stem cells are also described.

The NIH developed this primer to help readers understand the answers to questions such as:

  • What are stem cells?
  • What are the different types of stem cells, and where do they come from?
  • What is the potential for new medical treatments using stem cells?
  • What research is needed to make such treatments a reality?

This document provides basic information about stem cells. More detailed discussion is available from the NIH stem cell reports online at http://stemcells.nih.gov/info. Quick answers to specific common queries can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions page.

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  1. Introduction: What are stem cells, and why are they important?
  2. What are the unique properties of all stem cells?
  3. What are embryonic stem cells?
  4. What are adult stem cells?
  5. What are the similarities and differences between embryonic and adult stem cells?
  6. What are induced pluripotent stem cells?
  7. What are the potential uses of human stem cells and the obstacles that must be overcome before these potential uses will be realized?
  8. Where can I get more information?