"Derivation of Pluripotent Stem Cells from Cultured Human Primordial Germ Cells" (1998), by John Gearhart et al.
In November 1998, two independent reports were published concerning the first isolation of pluripotent human stem cells, one of which was "Derivation of Pluripotent Stem Cells from Cultured Human Primordial Germ Cells." This paper, authored by John D. Gearhart and his research team - Michael J Shamblott, Joyce Axelman, Shunping Wang, Elizabeith M. Bugg, John W. Littlefield, Peter J. Donovan, Paul D. Blumenthal, and George R. Huggins - was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science soon after James A. Thomson and his research team published "Embryonic Stem Cell Lines Derived from Human Blastocysts" in Science. Gearhart 's paper suggested that pluripotent human stem cells, which have the ability to develop into all cell types that make up the body, could be derived from primordial germ cells, which are precursors of fully differentiated germ cells, isolated from embryos. At the time, Gearhart was a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. With a background in genetics, he had devoted the majority of his research to how genes regulate tissue and embryo formation. However, the successful isolation of mice embryonic stem cells encouraged Gearhart to pursue the isolation of similar cells in humans. The principal difference between human embryonic stem (ES) cells, which Thomson 's team derived, and human embryonic germ (EG) cells, which Gearhart 's team derived, is that human embryonic germ cells are derived from early germ cells. Nonetheless, they are thought to share similar properties to human embryonic stem cells.