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It’s not surprising that last week Haruko Obokata issued a plea for privacy. On Jan. 29 she published a scientific paper on stem cells that could revolutionize medicine, and overnight the researcher based at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe became a domestic and international star.

The onslaught of media attention went beyond what Obokata had discovered — a way to revert ordinary cells from the body into kansaibō (stem cells), cells with the ability to develop into any cell type. These cells, known as pluripotent stem cells, have long been seen as the key to regenerative medicine, because in theory they can be grown into new organs and tissues.

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