The boundaries of embryonic stem cell (ESC) research have extended considerably in recent years in several important ways. Alongside a deeper understanding of the pluripotent state, ESCs have been successfully integrated into various fields, such as genomics, epigenetics, and disease modeling. Significant progress in cell fate control has pushed directed differentiation and tissue engineering further than ever before and promoted clinical trials. The geographical distribution of research activity has also expanded, especially for human ESCs. This review outlines these developments and future challenges that remain.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Dr. Daniel Ronen for critically reading this manuscript and Tamar Golan-Lev for her assistance with the graphical design of the figures. N.B. is the Herbert Cohn Chair in Cancer Research. This research was partially supported by the Legacy Heritage Biomedical Science Partnership Program of the Israel Science Foundation (grant 943/09), the Centers of Excellence Legacy Heritage Biomedical Science Partnership (grant 1801/10), and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (grant 1-2011-555).