Stem Cell Breakthrough

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's stem cell research is back in the news today with a breakthrough discovery that could provide the medical payoffs of embryo cloning without the controversy.

Scientists at the UW-Madison lab of stem cell pioneer Jamie Thomson and those at Kyoto University in Japan have made ordinary human skin cells take on the chameleon-like powers of embryonic stem cells.

Dr. Robert Lanza is chief science officer of Advanced Cell Technology. He says the work is a "tremendous scientific milestone" and is the biological equivalent of the Wright Brothers' first airplane.

The new discovery helps avoid the ethical, political and practical obstacles that have held back attempts to produce human stem cells by cloning embryos.

The results were released today online by two journals, Cell and Science. The research reported in Cell is from a team led by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka at Thomson's lab.

Thomson made headlines in 1998 when he announced that his team had isolated human embryonic stem cells.

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