Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Rewriting Life

Stem Cell Hunters Capture Their Prey

The human embryonic stem cell, which could be used to grow any other human tissue, has been a stubborn and elusive prey (see “The Troubled Hunt for the Ultimate Cell,” TR July/August 1998). Now, in the scientific equivalent of a photo finish, two teams have announced, in Science and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, respectively, the isolation of stem cells from human embryos. Their results could have very significant implications for biological research and transplant medicine.

The race was complicated by a ban on federal funds for embryo research and opposition from pro-life groups. As a result, funding has come from the private sector. Indeed, both winning groups, one led by James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin, the other by John Gearhart of Johns Hopkins University, had financial backing from Geron Corp., a biotech company in Menlo Park, Calif.

Though the race for the ultimate human cell may be over, the story isn’t. Researchers are likely to tangle for rights to claim the discovery-and patent applications already filed by other teams could complicate the picture.

The AI revolution is here. Will you lead or follow?
Join us at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.