A mainland scientist claims he will be able to reproduce every part of the human body within the next five years. Burns specialist Xu Rongxiang told the Hong Kong-based, Beijing-backed Wen Wei Po newspaper he and his team had already copied 55 parts of the human body and would be able to reproduce all 206 within five years. Professor Xu, president of the China National Burns Association, told the newspaper his group had developed a breakthrough scientific technique to stimulate the reproduction of human embryonic stem cells outside the body. According to the report, international stem cell scientists have not yet been successful in developing this technique. However, Professor Xu said he had been able to externally reproduce skin stem cells and other organs. The report did not state where Professor Xu was based, what academic institution he was affiliated with for this research or why a burns specialist and not a geneticist was claiming such a breakthrough. Stem cells are blank cells that scientists say have the potential to develop into any type of cell in the body, such as blood, muscle, bone and nerve cells. Scientists believe they can use these stem cells to grow new organs to replace injured ones, to grow nerve cells to repair brain cells damaged by diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, or to replace injured spinal cord cells in paraplegics. But stem cell research has been shrouded in controversy because scientists want to use stem cells from embryo tissue, which usually come from aborted foetuses.