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Research involving stem cells is an integral part of the U.S. biomedical research landscape, aiding the development of life-saving therapeutics, improving our understanding of human development and countless diseases, and establishing a new platform for revolutionary cell therapies. To ensure these developments translate into positive patient outcomes, it is imperative that robust public- and private-sector funding for stem cell research continues, and that the researchers carrying out this critical work have access to cell types, cell lines, and other resources they need to stop diseases that rob Americans and populations across the globe of health, hope, and time.

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Beginning with Congress’ first involvement in policy related to research using stem cells in 1974, there have been numerous policy landmarks that have shaped how U.S. stem cell research is funded and conducted. Learn more with our timeline of U.S. stem cell policy.


Do you believe the use of embryonic stem cells is necessary for progress in human health?

Yes 48%
No 17%
Not sure 35%

Source: A Research!America poll of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in January 2021.


Stem cells have several promising clinical applications, providing hope in the fight against diseases and conditions that affect millions of Americans. Below are some recent examples of these applications:

  • In a 2020 study, researchers reprogrammed a Parkinson’s patient’s skin cells into iPSCs and differentiated them into dopaminergic neurons lost by the disease. These replacement neurons were transplanted into the brain of the patient and after two years, were shown to be alive and functioning appropriately. The patient has begun to regain some daily function, prompting further investigation into this technique as a Parkinson’s treatment.
  • In patients with the “dry” form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), clinical trials are currently underway to evaluate if transplanting retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from iPSCs to replace those lost due to AMD can prevent further vision loss. In animal models, this therapy was shown to prevent blindness.
  • Clinical trials were recently announced to evaluate the ability of VX-880, a beta cell therapy derived from stem cells, to restore insulin production in individuals with type I diabetes. Building on the 2014 research that established a new method for creating beta cells from stem cells, this clinical trial brings us closer to a cure for type I diabetes.
  • In a small study, over half of patients with non-penetrating spinal cord injuries observed improved motor function within weeks of receiving an injection of stem cells derived from their bone marrow. This raises confidence in a clinical application of stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries, with clinical trials also exploring this possibility.