Researchers create 'programmable' stem cells through stress

Making stem cells in the lab is typically a complicated process, and there isn't much variety in the results without resorting to foreign DNA. However, researchers at both Brigham and Women's Hospital and Japan's RIKEN may have found a way to easily create most any stem cell a doctor would need. Their new technique subjects adult cells to extreme stress, such as oxygen deprivation. The victims that survive the process retreat into a state much like that of an embryonic stem cell; after that, scientists just have to grow the cells in the right environment to get the stem cells they want. It will be a while before the team tests this process with humans, but it could lead to stem cells tailor-made for specific patients -- you'd only have to provide a blood sample to get replacement tissues.