The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 56: 197 - 206 (2012)

Vol 56, Issue 4

Rediscovering pluripotency: from teratocarcinomas to embryonic stem cells

Open Access | Meeting Report | Published: 20 April 2012

Ivana Barbaric and Neil J. Harrison

Centre for Stem Cell Biology and the Department of Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, UK


The pluripotent potential of embryonic stem cells has often seen them touted as the future of regenerative medicine. The road to any therapeutic success however, must stretch back to teratocarcinoma, the tumour from which pluripotent stem cells (embryonal carcinoma cells) were first derived. This 2011 meeting in Cardiff acted as a historical perspective from which the impact of embryonal carcinoma cell research on the present pluripotent stem cell landscape could be observed, with many of the early luminaries in this field still very active. The meeting addressed the genetic and epigenetic make-up of pluripotent stem cells, the mechanisms which control their fate, and their relationship to the early embryo proper. With each speaker tasked with revisiting previous questions, this meeting demonstrated how far has been travelled, yet how far is left to go.


embryonal carcinoma, embryonic stem cell, pluripotency, differentiation

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