» 10/11/2012, 00.00
Nobel Prize for Yamanaka, scientific research and ethics must go hand in hand
Research on iPS (induced pluripotent stem cells) can produce stem cells from adult cells, for use in regenerative medicine. Shinya Yamanaka’s discovery reveals that research on embryonic stem cells is unnecessary, saving the lives of many embryos. The Japanese researcher has searched for new ways driven by ethical question.
Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Shinya Yamanaka, fresh from the Nobel Prize for
medicine, states that science and ethics must go hand in hand. Interviewed by the Mainichi Shimbun
after the award, he said: "I would like to invite ethical experts as
teachers at my laboratory and work to guide iPS [induced pluripotent stem] cell
research from that direction as well. The work of a scientific
researcher is just one part of the equation. "
50, found that adult cells can be transformed into cells in their infancy, stem
cells (iPS), which are, so to speak, the raw material for the reconstruction of
tissue irreparably damaged by disease. For
regenerative medicine the implications of Yamanaka's discovery are obvious. Adult
skin cells can for example be reprogrammed and transformed into any other cell
that is desired: from the skin to the brain, from the skin to the heart, from
the skin to elements that produce insulin.
discovery - says the statement of the jury that awarded him the Nobel Prize on
October 8 - has revolutionized our understanding of how cells and organisms
develop. Through the programming of human cells, scientists have created new
opportunities for the
study of diseases and development of methods for the diagnosis and therapy
"opportunities" are not only "scientific", but also
of the scientific research and global investment is in fact launched to design
and produce stem cells from embryos, arriving at the point of manipulating and
destroying them, facing scientists with enormous ethical problems.
Ethics are really difficult - Yamanaka explainsto Mainichi - In the United
States I began work on mouse experiments, and when I returned to Japan I
learned that human embryonic stem cells had been created. I was happy
that they would contribute to medical science, but I faced an ethical issue. I
started iPS cell research as a way to do good things as a researcher, and I
wanted to do what I could to expand the merits of embryonic stem cells. If we
make sperm or eggs from iPS cells, however, it leads to the creation of new
life, so the work I did on iPS cells led to an ethical problem. If we don't
prepare debates for ethical problems in advance, technology will proceed ahead
faster than we think.. "
"ethical question" Yamanaka pushed to find a way to "not keep
destroying embryos for our research."
with his co-workers at the University of Kyoto, immediately after receiving the
award, Yamanaka showed dedication and modesty.
- he said - I strongly feel a sense of gratitude and responsibility"
gratitude for family and friends who have supported him in a demanding journey
of discovery that lasted decades; responsibility for a discovery that gives
hope to millions of patients. Now
iPS cells can grow into any tissue of the human body allowing regeneration of
parts so far irretrievably lost due to illness.
modesty also led him to warn against excessive hopes. To a journalist
who asked him for a message to patients and young researchers awaiting the
results of his research heresponded: "The iPS cells are also known as
versatile cells, and the technology may be giving the false impression to
patients that they could be cured any day now. It will still take five or 10
years of research before the technology is feasible. There are over 200
researchers at my laboratory, and I want patients to not give up hope"
of times - he continued - I tried to get some results and I have often failed
in the experiments .... Many times I was tempted to give up or cry. Without the
support of my family, I could not have continued this search. From
now on I will be facing the moment of truth. I would like to return to my
laboratory as quickly as possible. "
celebrated the new Nobel Laureate, saying emphatically that Yamanaka has
"reversed the cycle of life" until now, scientists thought that new
life could only be born from embryos. But to do
this means manipulating and killing life itself. With
Yamanaka's discovery, old cells, can regenerate, and save embryos. "A
process that is considered irreversible" instead revealed the existence of
a new life cycle.
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