Stem cells from skin!

The exciting news today is that a simple switch turns cells embryonic. Awesome. Just four transcription factors can transform an adult skin cell into an embryonic-like (induced pluripotent stem) cell.
Research reported this week by three different groups shows that normal skin cells can be reprogrammed to an embryonic state in mice. The race is now on to apply the surprisingly straightforward procedure to human cells.

If researchers succeed, it will make it relatively easy to produce cells that seem indistinguishable from embryonic stem cells, and that are genetically matched to individual patients. There are limits to how useful and safe these would be for therapeutic use in the near term, but they should quickly prove a boon in the lab.
More here and here. This is truly a great advance. However,
But the iPS cells aren't perfect, and could not be used safely to make genetically matched cells for transplant in, for example, spinal-cord injuries. Yamanaka found that one of the factors seems to contribute to cancer in 20% of his chimaeric mice. He thinks this can be fixed, but the retroviruses used may themselves also cause mutations and cancer. "This is really dangerous. We would never transplant these into a patient," says Jaenisch. In his view, research into embryonic stem cells made by cloning remains "absolutely essential".
And that's really an important point. As opposed to the opinions of some wingnuts, this advance doesn't mean that embryonic stem cell research can now be completely abandoned. Just because chocolate ice cream is good doesn't mean that Baskin Robbins should limit itself to that flavor.