Erin Richards reports on a new technique that can, according to the authors of the referenced paper, reliably transform adult stem cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). One commenter points out that this not only avoids the ethical dilemma of embryonic stem cells but could bypass rejection problems if the cells are used for human repair, since the iPS cells could come from the patient's own body.
COMMENT: I don't claim the expertise to say whether the iPS technique could provide cells capable of doing all the same things embryonic stem cells could do, but it's important to take a long look at any option that provides the benefits without the problems in this minefield of research. It's also important to point out two things that often get misstated in the emotional debate. One is that it's not true the US government forbids or even restricts such research, only that federal money can be used only for work with a limited number of existing cell lines. There are projects all over the US using state or private funds. The second is that this is all still about potential. Years of research in the US and around the world, including large projects backed by government funds in countries like South Korea, have yet to produce a single product or process that has entered human trials.