The new method would arguably bypass current objections that embryos not be destroyed to make stem cells. And a higher efficiency makes it more practical to use IVF embryos, which number around 400,000 nationwide, according to a 2003 RAND study.
Atala says he will likely begin creating new cell lines from single blastomeres using private funding. He said he had no definite start date or number of new lines in mind. "You could easily create four to five lines a month, if need be," he notes.
Lanza says that so-called induced pluripotent cells (stemlike cells generated directly from skin tissue) may have great potential, but that research on them is only in its early stages. Researchers are still in the dark about many aspects of stem cells, especially how to grow them to replace worn-out tissue in patients.
Studying the real thing, he adds, could give them a big leg up.