Looking for a source of stem cells that can be used to study and treat diseases? Look no further than your own nose! Researchers in Australia have found adult nasal stem cells that can be extracted and grown easily and that can produce a wide range of specialized tissues.

They got these adult nasal stem cells from humans aged 20 to 78 years old (including Parkinson's patients) and could turn them into nerve, heart, muscle and liver cells. In experiments in animals, the adult nasal stem cells produced almost every tissue.

In the debate on stem cell research, we continue to hear that embryonic stem cells have the "potential" to become any tissue and, so the story goes, we must kill embryos and even create new embryos by cloning to research the possible use of embryonic stem cells for disease treatment. Yet adult stem cells continue to show that they are the ones that can produce real results, in the laboratory and already in helping thousands of patients.

Rather than using human embryos for fruitless experiments, we should pour our resources into the real promise of stem cells - adult stem cells.

Vicky McGath