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The History of Stem Cells and Current
Clinical Trials

Here at GoodCell, we are most interested in a specific type of cell called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs. IPSCs can be programmed to produce virtually any cell type in the human body — blood cells, brain cells, pancreas cells, heart cells, and more. This gives them amazing potential to help treat many diseases, including certain forms of age-related blindness, Parkinson’s disease and heart disease.
This didn’t happen overnight

50+ Years of Stem Cell Research

1950s

1955 – Dr. E. Donnall Thomas began researching the possibility of using bone marrow transplantation to cure humans with life-threatening diseases in the U.S.

Leading scientists agree that exciting stem cell therapeutics are on the horizon, and this didn’t happen overnight. Stem cell research began more than 50 years ago – 1955 to be exact. It all started with Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, an American physician, who was the first to research the possibility of using bone marrow transplantation to treat life-threatening diseases.

1959 – Experiments in mice proved the existence of blood stem cells in bone marrow.

1960s

1960 – First successful bone marrow transplant took place using bone marrow from an identical twin.

1980s

1988 – The first successful cord blood transplant was performed.

1990s


1990 –
The number of transplants performed annually had grown to 11,000.

The “Father of bone marrow transplantation” went on to earn a Nobel Prize in 1990 for establishing bone marrow transplantation as a successful treatment for leukemia and other blood conditions. By this time, the number of transplants performed annually had grown to 11,000 – which is a lot for something that has been under the radar, predominantly in circles of academics and researchers.


1992 –
First public blood bank was set up for cord blood in New York.

2000s


2000 –
Adult stem cells are recognized as having the potential to generate various cells for other organs. 

Beyond the successes of Dr. Thomas, research and medical breakthroughs in the stem cell industry consistently exceeded expectations and flourished as new findings came to light. It was in 2000 where adult stem cells became recognized as having the potential to generate various cells for other organs in the body. To make things official, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISCF) was established in 2002.

2006 – Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan finds a way of making embryonic-like cells from adult cells. His team reprogramed adult cells forming induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC).

2009 – The FDA approves the world’s first human clinical trial for stem-cell based therapy.

2009 – Stem cell transplants reported to improve survival outcomes for leukemia patients.

2010s

 2011 – Patient suffering from acute myeloid leukemia is cured of HIV-1 after receiving bone marrow stem cells transplanted from a donor. 

2014 – First-in-human clinical trial iPSC-derived retinal pigmented epithelial cells were transplanted in first patient in a clinical trial to treat macular degeneration.

2016 – Stem cells provide substantial recovery in patients disabled by stroke.

2016 – Small-scale study shows power of stem cells to repair damaged scar tissue caused by heart attacks.

2017 – Cambridge scientists report the development of an artificial mouse embryo using stem cells, a breakthrough in fertility research.

2017 – Cambridge scientists report the development of an artificial mouse embryo using stem cells, a breakthrough in fertility research.

2017 – Study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showing a personalized treatment using a patient’s own stem cells effective for treating macular degeneration.

2018 – Mouse and human skin cells reprogrammed into immune cells to fight cancer.

2020s


2020 – Pre-clinical study of iPSC-derived dopaminergic progenitor cells for Parkinson’s disease completed and approved for phase one clinical trial. 

2021 – Promising early results from Harvard Stem Cell Institute paved the way for a breakthrough treatment of Type 1 diabetes that signify the restoration of insulin-producing islet cells.

Today


To date, some clinical trials involving iPSCs have already started showing positive results, such as macular degeneration, Parkinson’s and heart disease. 

Since the early 2000’s, stem cell therapy has been making progress in a variety of patient populations such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and infertility. In 2021, promising early results from Harvard Stem Cell Institute paved the way for a breakthrough treatment of Type 1 diabetes that signified the restoration of insulin-producing islet cells – having the potential to help over one million people in the U.S.

There are a variety of types of cells currently under development and investigation. Current clinical trials with iPSCs have already demonstrated positive results in macular degeneration, Parkinson’s and heart disease.

Current Stem Cell Therapies in Development

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