The principal authors of the "brain cells from skin cells" study were Xiang Dong Fu of UCSD and Yuanchao Xue of Wuhan Univ. in China. The study is being funded by the U.S National Instittutes of Health and a Chinese program.
Direect conversion of skin cells to neurons has been done before, using a variety of chemicals. The new method targets the activity of just one chemical, protein, and is more efficient in converting the cells. Researchers now use various types of cells to make the neurons. The cells produced mimic embryonic stem cells, but are easier to get and don't involve the moral objectiions some have to their use.
As part of his research, the Union Tribune reporter who did an article on the breakthrough contacted rival researchers at Scripps and elsewhere.regarding the progress of the UCSD study. While it was grudgingly agreed that the new process was a breakthrough, they warned that more study, animal testing and continuing research will be required. Sound familiar???