You may have heard about the new stem cell breakthrough in the news. It seems to be quite significant – researchers (at Kyoto University and at Wisconsin-Madison) have managed to make human skin cells into stem cells (following on work done in mouse some announced some months back). If interested in the details (as I’m sure you are) you can read more about it in an AP story on the NPR web site here. (Yahoo’s version has pictures, such as the nerve cells above left from the Kyoto group. – try and spot the odd one out in their 14 image slide show.)
There was also a very informative chat about it with one of their science correspondents, Joe Palca, on Morning Edition, and you can listen to it here. There’ll be a lot of talk about this not just because of the science, but because of the issues this might eventually help avoid by not involving cloning of human embryos. There’s still a long way to go to see if this will be a viable alternative to embryo research (see both articles for discussion of the current limitations of the technique), and so some of the hurdles provided by the Bush administration to making advances in this area of research in US will remain in place for a while yet.