"Since there is a very thin line between a stem cell and a cancer cell," Dominguez-Bendala added, "you want the (reprogramming) process to be as clean as possible."
The new method may indeed be "cleaner," he said, but that's just "conjecture" for now.
Still, both he and Hochedlinger said that for researchers, the new findings will help in sorting out exactly what goes on during cell reprogramming -- which will be important if iPS cells are to be used to treat diseases.
Just this summer, Japanese researchers received approval for the world's first clinical trial of iPS cell therapy -- to treat the age-related eye disease macular degeneration.
Hochedlinger said his guess is the therapy could become a reality for certain diseases within the next five to 10 years.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has a primer on stem cells.
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.