A new discovery promises to make stem cell research cheaper, faster, and less controversial to boot. Scientists in Japan have shown that stem cells can be created in less than 30 minutes by simply dipping blood cells in acid; the new cells have been dubbed stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, or STAP, cells. The process doesn't change the DNA of the cells, either—which was the big flaw of a previous method discovered for creating stem cells without an embryo. "My God, that's a game changer," one scientist tells the BBC, calling it almost "too good to be true." Another called it "revolutionary."
The study only pulled the procedure off in mice, but researchers are already working on doing the same with human blood. The study actually implies that any cell, if subjected to the right stress, can revert to a stem cell, Charles Vacanti, the co-leader of the team, tells USA Today, adding that he believes the body does this naturally when injured. What's more, he tells the New Scientist that the research could revolutionize cloning as well. "The implication is that you can very easily, from a drop of blood and simple techniques, create a perfect identical twin," he says. (Read more stem cells stories.)