The Associated Press and numerous other outlets are reporting that scientists have suceeded in making ordinary human skin cells mimick the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells. Through “direct reprogramming,” these somatic cells could theoretically be turned into virtually any other kind of cell.
This is an enormous scientific achievement in its own right, but it also may be a major breakthrough in the debate over embryonic stem-cell research. Though this is by no means certain — many scientific questions remain — this discovery paves the way for reaping the potential benefits of stem-cell research without the ethical dilemmas of cloning and embryo destruction.
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