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Although controversial fetal stem cells hog the limelight, hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which give rise to the entire adult blood system, quietly facilitate high-dose chemotherapy on a regular basis in hospitals worldwide. But HSCs have not been without intrigue--whence they come and how they arise in early development remains mysterious. Now, two collaborating labs have produced papers that place the camera's glare directly on the embryonic origins of adult HSCs.1,2

Professor Elaine Dzierzak, Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, first realized that embryonic HSCs have two different origins.3 "The work really started about 10 years ago when we were looking at where the first stem cells for the adult blood system come from," says Dzierzak. "We found this area within the body of the...

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