Image: ©2001 MacMillan Publishers Ltd.
PLURIPOTENT-CELL PIPELINE: To obtain embryonic germ cells, researchers culture primordial germ cells (PGCs) dissected from the genital ridge. If left in situ, a PGC develops into spermatozoa or ova after its imprints have been erased and reestablished. Embryonic stem cells come from the blastocyst's inner cell mass. (Reprinted with permission, Nature 414:122-8, 2001)

Because the science is hard and the politics mean, progress in understanding human pluripotent cells has been slow. Biologists first trumpeted their discoveries of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and human embryonic germ cells (hEGCs) in 1998.1,2 ESCs come from the blastocyst's inner cell mass, whereas EGCs are derived later in development from the primordial germ cells that give rise to spermatozoa and ova. In the past four years, only about 25 published research papers have focused on human pluripotent cells, and just a handful of labs worldwide have become adept...

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