The Senate has once again passed a stem cell bill whose primary function is to allow federal funding of stem cell lines created after August, 2001. The ban was placed by President Bush and has been upheld since then, limiting federally-funded embryonic stem cell research to approximately 24 or fewer stem cell lines.
President Bush is expected to veto the bill.
I recently found a 2005 edition of National Geographic in which the subject of stem cell research was thoroughly discussed--with the usual excellent photographs. I think what surprised me most was that only one item dated the article: Hwang's announcement of producing a stem cell line from adult cells by nuclear transfer had not been made or declared completely false. Other than that, not much seemed to be new.
Whether the slow progress in embryonic stem cell research is because of the science itself or the lack of federal funding cannot be clearly determined. Two facts have held up though: Adult stem cell research is producing few instances of "cures" of debilitating diseases in spite of a number of tests. Success is still based on individual cases, but there is promise. Embryonic stem cell research, still controversial and abhorent to many, has a long way to go before it can fulfill the promises made--if it ever does.