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What is a stem cell? The answer is seemingly obvious: a cell that is also a stem, or point of origin, for something else. Upon closer examination, however, this combination of ideas leads directly to fundamental questions about biological development. A cell is a basic category of living thing; a fundamental 'unit of life.' A stem is a site of growth; an active source that supports or gives rise to something else. Both concepts are deeply rooted in biological thought, with rich and complex histories. The idea of a stem cell unites them, but the union is neither simple nor straightforward. This book traces the origins of the stem cell concept, its use in stem cell research today, and implications of the idea for stem cell experiments, their concrete results, and hoped-for clinical advances.
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