Over the last few days, a new publication about cloning human stem cells has become very controversial, on the one hand, because of the topic itself and the ethical issues that it raises, and on the other hand, because the veracity of the results has been challenged on the web.
What do John Gurdon, Shinya Yamanaka, Brian Kobilka and Serge Haroche have in common? Yes, they are all winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize, but besides that? All of these Nobel laureates have also chosen to publish their research in open access.
Fifteen years ago a sheep called Dolly arrived into our world and caused a sensation. A living, breathing (and bleating) sheep created from an adult cell, Dolly was not the first animal to be cloned, but she became the most famous.
Four baby monkeys created in a laboratory in the United States could hold the key to the eradication of a class of incurable genetic diseases, scientists revealed.
Inside an embryo are dozens of stem cells. Initially, these cells are blank slates, meaning that their fate is still undecided. They can develop into every cell, every tissue or organ in the human body. Their almost limitless potential has made stem cells a significant focus of medical research.
Stem cells may have the potential to fulfil the promise of newly created organs and the reversion of damages caused by diseases. But there are still many technical, ethical and political obstacles to overcome before real therapies are possible.