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John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka get stem cells identical to embryonic stem cells without destroying human embryonic

By Clemente Ferrer

The research carried out by the British John B. Gurdon and the Japanese Shinya Yamanaka, parents of cell reprogramming awarded with the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2012, have created cells whose characteristics are identical to those of embryonic cells, but without destroying human embryos.

The Swedish Academy said that both Gurdon and Yamanaka “have revolutionized our understanding of how cells and bodies develop”, and allowed to refine unusual “methods of diagnosis and therapy”.

John Bertrand Gurdon, Professor in the Department of Zoology of the University of Cambridge, said he was “greatly honored” by such a “spectacular” privilege.

Meanwhile, Shinya Yamanaka got induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), with the same properties that embryonic stem cells have to become any type of cell in the body. “I will continue investigating to actually contribute to society and medicine. It is a duty“, so the Japanese.

Yamanaka’s findings raised great expectations. But the path to the therapeutic use of induced stem cells is long: The procedure necessary to obtain such cells makes them unsafe. Recently, researchers at Harvard University have discovered a method that reduces the danger.

A team of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute headed by Prof. Derrick Rossi (pictured) has released a test that may allow the therapeutic use of induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS.

IPS cells have the same efficacy as the embryonic cells, but derive from an adult organism, can be obtained from the same patient and used to regenerate a tissue without risk of rejection by genetic incompatibility.

IPS cells were obtained by Prof. Shinya Yamanaka after he found four genes that determine the pluripotency, and got reprogram adult cells and turn them into iPS.

The Harvard researchers took human skin cells and turned them into pluripotent. The method ensures the generation of cells to restore tissues, tailored to the patient and to the injury suffered.

Yamanaka’s method creates stem cells because the four genes introduced into the cell which is to reprogram produce albumins to make a cell pluripotent.

The first benefit of this procedure is that it allows the differentiation of the stem cells so that they become cells of the needed type.

Of course, it is still necessary to investigate and experience for many years. But for the first time a clear route to reach therapeutic applications of induced stem cells can be seen. (Source: Aceprensa)

  • Clemente Ferrer. Author and journalist Clemente Ferrer has led a distinguished career in Spain in the fields of advertising and public relations. He is currently President of the European Institute of Marketing.


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