As neatly summarized in this article by MSNBC's Alan Boyle, two groups of researchers have developed ways to genetically modify adult cells to create new cells identical to embryonic stem cells. Neither method is ready for large-scale application, but they offer the promise of further exploring the theraputic possibilities of such cells without the oral and ethical questions surrounding the use of stem cells from human embryos.
COMMENT: Whatever one's stance on the use of human embryonic stem cells (personally, it makes me very queasy), this is good news. Hopefully this progress will attract funding to determine the large-scale applicability of these methods. When there's a non-controversial way to pursue research, it only makes sense to pursue it that way. My other thought is that the media may well be overblowing the whole subject: no useful product derivered from embryonic stem cells has yet emerged from several years of research. The potential, though, is still there, and this news may indicate a workable route to pursuing further research.