Michigan State University main website

MSU’s Research Involving Human Embryos and Embryonic Stem Cell Lines

The National Institutes of Health defines stem cells as human or animal cells that can be induced to become tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions. Current research into both embryonic and adult stem cells seeks to increase the understanding of the process through which these stem cells develop into the specific cells of the body.

From this knowledge, researchers hope to formulate potential therapies to treat a whole host of diseases and injuries. While much progress has been made using adult stem cells and induced pluripotent cells, embryonic stem cells are thought to have unique cellular properties with greater developmental potential than adult stem cells.

Michigan Constitutional Amendment

In 2008, Michigan voters adopted a constitutional amendment whose stated purpose was to “ensure that Michigan citizens have access to stem cell therapies and cures, and that physicians and researchers can conduct the most promising forms of medical research in this state.”

To accomplish these goals, the amendment provided that “any research permitted under federal law on human embryos may be conducted in Michigan,” subject only to specific limitations stated in the amendment. These limitations were designed to ensure that the research is conducted safely and ethically. They require that the human embryos used in research have been created for the purpose of fertility treatment and, with voluntary and written informed consent, the person seeking fertility treatment chose to donate the embryos for research. The donated embryos must be in excess of the clinical need of the person seeking the fertility treatment (or must not be suitable for implantation) and it must be the case that the embryos will otherwise be discarded unless they are used for research.

MSU’s 2016 research

The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee has expressed an interest in human embryonic stem cell derivation activities on campus. Before and during fiscal year 2015-2016, MSU scientists have not derived human embryonic stem cell lines nor have they submitted human embryonic stem cell lines to the National Institutes of Health.

In the future, MSU scientists will be pursuing research involving human embryonic stem cell derivation, in addition to current MSU research being conducted using adult stem cells, human induced pluripotent cells, and animal stem cells. This research will adhere to the laws of the State of Michigan and be guided by the National Academies’ Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and the National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research. In addition, Michigan State University has established the Institutional Stem Cell Research Committee (ISCRC) to oversee all stem cell research.

For more information about MSU research projects involving stem cells, visit http://research.msu.edu/msu-stem-cell-research-projects. This website is periodically updated to provide the latest information regarding MSU’s research. For more information about stem cell research, please visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health website.

Photo: Zebra fish that were cloned in the MSU Cellular Reprogramming Laboratory.