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Extended Chronology
Globe and Mail Update
Saturday, August 18, 2001

1950's - A pair of Canadians prove that stem cells exist - something scientists had first suspected while studying embryo development early in the 20th century.

1968 - Doctors at the University of Minnesota perform the first bone-marrow transplant, using stem cells to replenish the patient's blood supply

1970 - Researchers grow teratocarcinoma tumours (cancerous tumours that grow in the ovaries or testes) in mice and extract stem cells from them. Growing the cells in the lab, researchers discover they are able to grow into cells of the heart, kidney, liver and the brain. This proves the idea that an adult body may still possess embryonic-like stem cells.

1980 - California and Cambridge researchers report they had for the first time extracted stem cells from a mouse embryo.

1984 - Test tube baby pioneer Dr. Robert Edwards tells an international conference on medical ethics that stem cells from embryos can be transplanted into the bone marrow of leukemia patients, without risk of rejection.

July 1988 - A 4-year-old Brampton girl appears to defy the odds by beating a rare form of cancer after receiving a historic bone cell transplant. The stem cell transplant was the second of its kind ever performed on a child (the first child patient died shortly after the operation). It involved replacing both the girl's existing bone marrow and the ''baby" stem cells that create new bone marrow.

February 1992 - Canadian scientists transplant human bone-marrow cells into mice, making it possible to study a wide range of blood disorders as never before.

March 1992 - U of Calgary neuroscientist Samuel Weiss and graduate student Brent Reynolds find cells in the brains of mice that can divide to produce new cells, debunking medical beliefs that cells in the brain and the spinal cord could not produce more nerve cells. The researchers say that they successfully isolated stem cells and got them to divide and multiply in a lab dish. The success of this experiment suggests that stem cells could be coaxed into producing new cells to replace damaged or destroyed brain cells.

October 1993 - Doctors at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina replace the dead bone marrow of a three-year-old leukemia patient with blood and stem cells from the umbilical cord and placenta of an unrelated newborn. The technique boosts hopes for an alternative to some marrow transplants. Doctors say that within a month, the stem cells will cause the production of the various types of cells found in marrow.

December 1995 - An AIDS patient receives a bone-marrow transplant from a baboon to rebuild his ravaged immune system. The transplant is meant to re-supply the human bloodstream with baboon blood cells, which do not get infected with the AIDS virus. Researchers transplant the baboon's stem cells in the hopes they will manufacture new blood cells.

1996 - Researchers at Indiana University demonstrate they can extract mouse embryonic stem cells and then chemically induce them to become heart muscle cells, which could then be implanted into a mouse heart and integrate smoothly into the organ.

February 1997 - Edinburgh scientists clone the first mammal, a sheep, "Dolly" using adult DNA and stem cells.

September 1998 -California researchers create a "human mouse" by transplanting the human immune system into rodents, providing a powerful new tool to study and combat AIDS, cancer, herpes and many other human diseases. The Stanford team gave 300 of the same kind of mice partially functioning temporary human immune systems - lasting two to three months - by implanting aborted human fetal tissue containing stem cells and other building blocks of the human immune system

November 1998 - a University of Wisconsin at Madison team, led by James Thomson, a developmental biologist reports it grew stem cells from human blastocysts -- cells of embryos that are about five days old in his laboratory. The University of Wisconsin group was able to make stem cells grow into muscle, cartilage and neuron cells.

November 1998 - U.S. scientists say they have used cloning technology to fuse human and cow cells in an attempt to grow organs for transplant in a laboratory dish.

April 1999 - researchers at a Baltimore biotechnology company called Osiris Therapeutics report they have collected stem cells from adult human bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside bones that produces the body's blood cells. They chemically coaxed the stem cells to become not only blood cells, but also fat cartilage, and bone

May 1999 - A U.S. patients' lobbying group releases a poll suggesting that three-quarters of Americans favour stem cell research, which uses cells from a variety of sources, including embryos left over from attempts to create test-tube babies. It says the research offers treatments and cures for their ailments

May 1999 - U.S. President Bill Clinton's top advisory panel on medical ethics recommends government financing for limited forms of research on human embryos to build on discoveries promising huge medical advances. The National Bioethics Advisory Commission acknowledges that the report is likely to raise controversy, but said the research's potential makes it worthwhile. It recommends a regime of tightly controlled experiments to obtain stem cells from embryos left over from procedures at fertility clinics. They would be used only with the consent of the parents for whom the embryos were created.

October 1999 - Boston Researchers say that early experiments in rats showed that stem cells might be of value in treating retinitis pigmentosa, a collection of syndromes that is a common cause of blindness

January 2000 - the first cloned primate is born. The arrival of a rhesus monkey is a biomedical blessing that will allow scientists to solve some of the mysteries of human disease, according to the Oregon researcher who created it

Feb 2000 - Researchers at the University of Florida say they have used stem cells to reverse diabetes in mice.

June 2000 - German scientists begin importing human embryo stem cells from the United States for research, despite accusations that the move exploits a loophole in strict national laws. Germany has banned the killing of embryos for scientific research, although importing embryo cells is not illegal

December 2000 British MPs approve laws allowing research which uses stem cells from human embryos to develop new medical treatments, overruling opponents who argued it was a step on the road to human cloning. In a free vote parliamentarians back proposals by a majority of more than two to one to permit the research, which scientists say could pave the way for cures for degenerative diseases such as leukemia and heart disease.

April 2001 - U.S. scientists discover valuable stem cells in human fat and convert it into cells that make muscle, bone and cartilage, suggesting that people's least-favourite body part could become a rich source of repair cells for disease or injury.

July 6, 2001 - MIT scientists say cloned animals are growing to be genetic misfits. While such abnormalities were not severe enough to result in miscarriages or stillbirths, scientists suspect that these defects could wreak havoc with organs and even trigger foul ups in the brain later in life.

July 24, 2001 - The pope lectures U.S. president George W. Bush on the 'evil' of stem cell research. At the same time, Ottawa says it is prepared to allow medical research using human embryos, but under strict regulation.

August 1, 2001 - The U.S. House of Representatives approves a bill making it a federal crime to clone humans to produce children, or to create embryos for medical research. The bill would outlaw cloning of embryos solely to derive stem cells, but would not affect research using other types of stem cells, such as adult stem cells. Extracting embryonic stem cells destroys the embryos.

August 7, 2001 - Scientists announce they have grown heart cells from human embryonic stem cells, an important step toward harnessing these primitive master cells to regenerate tissue damaged by cardiac disease, a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation says.

August 9, 2001 - U.S president George W. Bush places strict limits on federal funding for research that uses stem cells from human embryos. In his first prime-time televised speech as President, he characterized the controversial field of stem-cell research as "the leading edge of a series of moral hazards." He prohibited federal funding for research that requires the fresh destruction of human embryos. But he approved it for research using stem cells from embryos that have already been destroyed, "where the life-and-death decision has already been made," as he put it.

August 13, 2001 - Montreal researchers announce they have, for the first time, captured stem cells from the skin of adult mice and humans capable of growing into brain cells and a range of other tissues.

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