Human embryo and early fetus research

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Studies of human embryos and fetuses have highlighted developmental differences between humans and model organisms. In addition to describing the normal biology of our own species, a justification in itself, studies of early human development have aided identification of candidate disease genes mapped by positional cloning strategies, understanding pathophysiology, where human disorders are not faithfully reproduced by models in other species, and, more recently, potential therapies based on human embryonic stem and embryonic germ cells. In this article, we review these applications. We also discuss when and how to study human embryo and early fetuses and some of the regulations of this research.

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