BEIJING, Feb. 1 -- Chinese scientists working at an American university said they had coaxed motor neurons from human embryonic stem cells.
Zhang Suchun, a University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor of anatomy and neurology, and his student, Li Xuejun, published their study in the journal Nature Biotechnology on Sunday.
The feat, which took more than two years of trial and error, is seen as an important step in the dream of creating spinal nerve cells in the laboratory to replace cells damaged by spinal cord injuries or by diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig's disease.
However, scientists cautioned that this therapy was still many years off. The more immediate impact of the research will likely be to provide a supply of motor nerve cells that can be used to test new drugs intended to treat various nerve ailments.
"You can use this as a tool to figure out how to rescue cells," said Zhang Suchun.
I wonder if Richard Bennett and Charles Krauthammer can now calm their outrage...