Hi Science Made Easy! Hopefully this is an appropriate thing to post here. Let me know if otherwise.
Earlier this month, this study made some waves for being the first demonstration of making stem cells using cloning of adult cells. Now, in Nature, a second group is has also reported accomplishing this impressive feat. Not only were they able to create embryonic stem cells from the DNA of a 32-year-old diabetic woman, they were also able to differentiate them into insulin producing beta cells. This means that this technique could potentially be used to treat this woman's diabetes, using her very own cells.
I wrote a post on the previous report which includes some background and a summary. Here's a nice diagram that shows how the process of making cloned embryonic stem cells differ from natural stem cells, as well as induced pluripotent stem cells. (Side note: I really hate that I found it on a Family Research Council blog, but it's the only one I could find comparing the techniques).
In short, a cell is taken from the organism that one wishes to clone. The DNA is extracted and placed inside an unfertilized egg which has had its DNA removed. Wave a magic wand (kidding) and voila, you have a cloned embryonic stem cell. In reality, it's a very complicated procedure, and with no success in human cells since the cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1996. It's only last year that its been doable with human cells of a fetal or newborn source, which has limited therapeutic applications. The fact that two independent labs have been able to do this with adult cells means that we've made a huge leap towards growing patient-tailored stem cells (and as I mention in my previous post, the potential to clone a human adult). Can't wait to see how this research continues to develop!