University of Michigan Stem Cell Research | Overview

The University of Michigan has recently emerged as a national leader in the three main types of stem cell research: embryonic, adult, and reprogrammed cells known as iPS cells.

A long-time leader in the study of adult stem cells, U-M has bolstered its human embryonic stem cell program, and added a complementary iPS cell research effort, since the passage of Proposal 2 in November 2008. The state constitutional amendment eased onerous restrictions on the types of embryonic stem cell research allowed in Michigan.

Recent milestones include:

In addition to the work underway by the Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies, hubs for U-M stem cell research also exist at the Life Science Institutes Center for Stem Cell Biology and at the U-M Health Systems Comprehensive Cancer Center. Other groundbreaking stem cell work is being pursued at other units across campus.

The Center for Stem Cell Biology was established in 2005 with $10.5 million provided by the U-M Medical School, the Life Sciences Institute, and the Molecular and Behavioral Neurosciences Institute.

The centers main goal is to determine the fundamental mechanisms that regulate stem cell function. That knowledge, in turn, provides new insights into the origins of disease and suggests new approaches to disease treatment. Most of the work involves adult stem cells including blood-forming and nervous system stem cells but human embryonic stem cells also are studied.

The U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of the few places in North America that has made an institutional commitment to cancer stem cell research. Cancer stem cells are responsible for triggering the uncontrolled cell growth that leads to malignant tumors.

U-M researchers were the first to identify stem cells in solid tumors, finding them in breast cancer in 2003. They were also the first to find pancreatic and head-and-neck stem cells. At the U-M cancer center, scientists are investigating how these cells mutate, causing unregulated growth that ultimately leads to cancer.

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University of Michigan Stem Cell Research | Overview

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