In breakthrough, scientists reprogram skin cells into ESCs

On today, you'll see a report that Dolly creator Ian Wilmut is giving up on cloning and focusing on harvesting stem cells from skin tissue for biomedical research work. You'll get a better understanding why he's making the switch with the publication today of two studies showing that skin cells were reprogrammed into replicas of embryonic stem cells by simply adding four genes. The approach, reported by two sets of scientists, allows researchers to create stem cells that act in the kind of blank-slate fashion of ESCs, without the controversial destruction of human embryos. There is the possibility that introducing the genes in the way that's being reported today could create risks, especially if a cancer gene is being added into the skin cell equation. But the scientists say that it won't take long to perfect the technology, opening up the entire field of stem cell research in one fell swoop.

"Everyone was waiting for this day to come," the Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told The New York Times. "You should have a solution here that will address the moral objections that have been percolating for years."

- read the article in The New York Times