Advocates of embryonic stem (ES) cells have promised much from this technology, from reversal of neurodegenerative diseases to custom tissue regeneration. What is it, then, that makes ES cells so remarkable? Essentially, this question can be answered by two major features: an ability to self-renew and thereby divide indefinitely in culture, and pluripotency, the ability to respond to external signals and differentiate into any type of cell in the body, including germ cells.

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