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Nat Rev Genet. 2006 Apr;7(4):319-27. doi: 10.1038/nrg1827.

From teratocarcinomas to embryonic stem cells and beyond: a history of embryonic stem cell research.

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Davor Solter is at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology, St├╝beweg 51, 79108 Freiburg, Germany.


We are currently facing an unprecedented level of public interest in research on embryonic stem cells, an area of biomedical research that until recently was small, highly specialized and of limited interest to anyone but experts in the field. Real and imagined possibilities for the treatment of degenerative and other diseases are of special interest to our rapidly ageing population; real and imagined associations of stem cells to cloning, embryos and reproduction stir deeply held beliefs and prejudices. The conjunction of these factors could explain the recent sudden interest in embryonic stem cells but we ought to remember that this research has a long and convoluted history, and that the findings described today in the scientific and popular press are firmly grounded in research that has been going on for several decades. Here I briefly recapitulate this fascinating history.

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