Stem Cell History

The history of stem cells, from discovery to today!

In this page we will cover some of the most important stem cell historical events. All  the facts are categorised by date. We have tried to include anything stem-cell related, that can be considered historically important. If you believe we have missed something that deserves to be mentioned please leave a comment or send us an email, we would be more than happy to include it:
  • 1908: A Russian histologist, named Alexander Maksimov, is the first to propose the term "Stem Cell". Maksimov proposed the term during a congress of the hematologic society in Berlin. He was the first to hypothesise the existence of haematopoietic stem cells.
  • 1924: Alexander A. Maximow identifies a singular type of precursor cell within the mesenchyme that develops into different types of blood cells. The cells discovered, were later revealed to be mesenchymal stem cells.
  • 1960s: Two scientists, Joseph Altman and Gopal Das, present scientific data that indicate adult neurogenesis in the brain, suggesting the existence of neural stem cells. Their findings back then, contradicted the widely accepted "no new neurons" dogma of Cajal. As a result their work and findings were largely ignored by the scientific community.
  • 1963: James Edgar Till, along with Ernest McCulloch, are the first to illustrate the existence of self-renewing cells in mouse bone marrow. They had actually discovered the existence of hematopoietic stem cells.
  • 1968: A bone marrow transplant is successfully used (for the first time) between two siblings for the treatment of Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID).
  • 1978: Haematopoietic stem cells are discovered in human cord blood.
  • 1981: Martin Evans along with Matthew Kaufman, manage to extract  mice embryonic stem cells from mice blastocysts. They also cultured and cultivated them. During the same year, Gail R. Martin  almost simultaneously illustrated various techniques for extracting mouse embryonic stem cells. She is attributed for coining the "embryonic stem cell" term.
  • 1989: Sally Temple, describes the existence of multipotent, self-renewing progenitor and stem cells in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the mouse brain.
  • 1992: Brent A. Reynolds and Samuel Weiss manage to isolate neural stem cells from the adult striatal tissue, including the SVZ of adult mice brain tissue. Simultaneously the team of Constance Cepko and Evan Y. Snyder  isolated multipotent cells from the mouse cerebellum and transfected them with the oncogene v-myc
  • 1997: John E. Dick publishes the first study that suggests the existence of cancer stem cells.
  • 1998: James Thomson, along with his team, becomes the first one to derive human embryonic stem  cells. In the same year, John Gearhart (from Johns Hopkins University) extracted germ cells from fetal gonadal tissue before developing pluripotent stem cell lines from them.
  • 2001: Researchers of Advanced Cell Technology become the first ones to clone early staged human embryos (at the stage of 4 to 6 cells)
  • 2003: Songtao Shi, discovers that the primary teeth of children can be used as a new source for extracting adult stem cells
  • 2004–2006: In 2004 Hwang Woo-Suk announced the creation of several human embryonic stem cell lines from unfertilised human oocytes. It was later shown that his work was fabricated and no human embryonic stem cell lines were actually produced.
  • 2005: Researchers from UC Irvine's Reeve-Irvine Research Centre manage to partially restore mobility in paralysed rats, with induced spine damage, by using neural stem cells. 
  • April 2006: Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago identify cord blood-derived multipotent stem cells with pluripotent capacities.
  • August 2006: Shinya Yamanaka becomes the first to derive induced pluripotent stem cells from mice.
  • October 2006: Scientists at Newcastle University in England become the first to differentiate umbilical cord blood stem cells into liver cells
  • January 2007: A research team led by Anthony Atala discovers a new type of stem cell,  amniotic fluid stem cells (AFS cells). These stem cells are found to be pluripotent in nature.
  • October 2007: The nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine goes to Mario Capecchi, Martin Evans, and Oliver Smithies for their pioneering work on mouse embryonic stem cells.
  • November 2007: Shinya Yamanaka again comes first. This time, for being the first one to create human induced pluripotent stem cells. James Thomson and his team comes close second, for the same achievement.
  • January 2008: Advanced Cell Technology researcher Robert Lanza announces the first production of human embryonic stem cells that didn't require the destruction of an embryo.
  • March 2008: The first stem cell related study of succesfully regenerated human knee cartilage is published. The study involves the use of autologous mesenchymal adult stem cells.
  • October 2008: A team from Germany led by Sabine Conrad creates human pluripotent stem cells from spermatogonial cells of adult testis. In the same month scientists created induced pluripotent stem cells from a single human hair
  • November 2008: Paolo Macchiarini transplants the first human organ, fully grown from stem cells. It was a trachea which was transplanted on a Colombian female who had her own collapsed due to tuberculosis.
  • 11 October 2010: The first human clinical trial involving embryonic stem cells commences. The trial was later cancelled, supposedly for financial reasons. As of today no info regarding the few treated patients has been released. During the trial paraplegic patients with spinal cord injuries were supposed to be treated using human embryonic stem cells. Only a handful received the treatment prior to the trial's cancellation.
  • June 2011: A team of Israeli scientists led byInbar Friedrich Ben-Nun produce stem cells from an endangered species. Their work has the potential to one day save many different species that are in danger of extinction.
  • December 2012: Advance Cell Technology announces human stem cell clinical trial
  • 28 July 2013: The first stem cell hamburger is cooked and consumed

If you enjoy reading about the history of stem cells you will most probably enjoy this list of stem cell books.

1 comment:

  1. An important recent basic research article:

    This may be the key to unlocking the inhibition of cancer stem cells


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