Chinese researchers have apparently succeeded in using rabbit eggs to jumpstart the process of creating largely human embryonic stem cells. Essentialy, what the Chinese scientists did was remove the nuclei from rabbit eggs and replace them with nuclei taken from human skin cells. Apparently, they had an amazing success rate–1 in 4 of the cloned cells actually survived to the blastocyst stage from which embryonic stem cells could be derived. The hope is that such experiments will teach researchers how to reset cells so that they can produce stem cells that can be used to treat degenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease or replace cardiac cells damaged by a heart attack.
Naturally, no biomedical breakthrough today goes without ethical maunderings-on, so the ever-predictable Richard Doerflinger, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opined that the cloned cells are human enough that "we'd consider this an organism of the human species." Relax, Father Doerflinger, researchers are not trying to produce people with big floppy ears who can wiggle their noses, just better medical treatments.