Is the stem cell debate over?

Word that scientists have succeeded in turning skin cells into stem cells has gone across the world like a thunderclap.

James Thomson University of WisconsinWord that scientists have succeeded in turning skin cells into stem cells has gone across the world like a thunderclap.

Separate findings from the University of Wisconsin and Kyoto University in Japan show that the technique, called direct programming, works.

Alongside the scientific excitement is an equal amount of political excitement. If new stem cells really can be created using any cell, there is no need to harvest fertilized eggs, and thus no political debate.

One of the new articles was authored by James Thomson (right, from his own Web page), who first isolated embryonic stem cells nine years ago. An AP story notes that Thomson, 48, neither owns a TV nor reads newspapers, and definitely won't see this blog post.

The other was authored by Shinya Yamanaka, whom the AP notes did his post-doctoral research at the University of California-San Francisco and now holds a research title there.

Already the media is running with the implications. The Telegraph in England says this means the end of therapeutic cloning.

What do you think it means? And does any of it frighten you?

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