Pluripotent Stem Cells of the Mammalian Early Embryo
The early embryo harbors the most amazing cells, the embryonic stem (ES) cells, pluripotent cells capable of generating all the tissues and cell types of a mature animal. Discovery and establishment of culture techniques able to maintain in culture human embryonic stem cells revolutionized the scientific community about a decade ago. In addition to ES cells, other lesser-known stem cells have their niche in the early embryo, such as trophoblast stem cells, and at later stages, epiblast stem cells and embryonic germ cells. This chapter will discuss current knowledge of these cell types, the results of their use in preclinical studies using animal models, and current cell therapies for human disease treatment.