Capturing the Promise of Youth

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Science  17 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5448, pp. 2238-2239
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5448.2238

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Late last year, in a technological breakthrough that triggered a burst of research and a whirlwind of ethical debate, two teams of researchers announced that they had managed to keep embryonic and fetal human cells at their maximum potential, ready to be steered into becoming any cell in the body. Building on that achievement, in 1999 developmental biologists and biomedical researchers published more than a dozen landmark papers on the remarkable abilities of these so-called stem cells. We salute this work, which raises hopes of dazzling medical applications and also forces scientists to reconsider fundamental ideas about how cells grow up, as 1999's Breakthrough of the Year.