It is always good to see a high-value application emerge from a field of science that will eventually lead to healthy life extension, even if that application itself doesn't have any effect on our life spans. Applications are bridges to pools of money and consumers - the process of serving those consumers helps to fund and broaden the underlying science. Cloning animals (especially pets) is a good recent example, as is stem cell based hair restoration. Wired offers another potential application of stem cell science that could tap into a large pool of money: breast implants.
What could be better than breast implants? Why, breast implants that continually repair themselves, of course. Saline implants can leak, rupture, interfere with mammograms, and lose their shape. But scientists are studying ways to make breast augmentations from stem cells, which are famous for their self-renewing capabilities. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago will publish a study in the April issue of Tissue Engineering showing that stem-cell tissue implants in mice kept their shape longer than traditional implants.
Younger fields of research need as many of these lucrative bridges to money and consumers as possible in order to grow the pool of funding, scientists and knowledge. Private funding is quite capable of outweighing public funding, but it won't come out to play in the absence of a clear, defined market.