The United Kingdom founded a new £16.5 million (USD $30 million) stem cell center in Cambridge this week with a commitment to fundamental research on both human embryonic and adult stem cells as a precursor to studying therapeutic applications.

The center's director, Roger Pedersen, professor of regenerative medicine at Cambridge University, dismissed calls to focus purely on adult and postnatal stem cells taken from the umbilical cord. "More than half of the research will be on embryonic stem cells," he told The Scientist. "We still don't understand 'stem-ness,' what it means to be able to differentiate to different cells, and we only know the identity of a handful of adult stem cells in the body, such as blood and muscle. However, embryonic stem cells by definition include all the other stem cells, so understanding them is a vital first step."

The United Kingdom has recently passed several milestones in...

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