BBC, 20 November 2007.
Human skin cells have been reprogrammed by two groups of scientists to mimic embryonic stem cells with the potential to become any tissue in the body. The breakthrough promises a plentiful new source of cells for use in research into new treatments for many diseases.
Crucially, it could mean that such research is no longer dependent on using cells from human embryos, which has proved highly controversial. The US and Japanese studies feature in the journals Science and Cell.
Until now only cells taken from embryos were thought to have an unlimited capacity to become any of the 220 types of cell in the human body – a so-called pluripotent state.