Profiles in Cardiovascular Science: Shinya Yamanaka - Purveyor of Pluripotency
In 2006, a report from Shinya Yamanaka's lab changed the landscape of stem cell research for good.1 Until that point, generating a source of patient-identical pluripotent stem cells, a major stepping-stone in the quest for stem cell therapies, would only have been possible by cloning a human, generating an embryo and deriving embryonic stem cells, all of which would involve challenging techniques and a burden of ethical issues.
Yamanaka's paper offered the potential of a new and easier method. By introducing four genes into terminally differentiated adult mouse fibroblasts, he could reverse the cells' fates and render them embryo-like.1 And one year later he did the same with human cells.2
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), as the resulting cells were called, were shown to share the characteristics and features of embryonic stem cells, including the ability to give rise to every tissue type of the body.3,4 Thus, in principle, a patient might one-day be able to donate some cells and in a matter of weeks have those cells converted into a source of stem cells ready to produce any required cell type–heart cells to fix an infarction injury, for example. [Extract]
- Accepted December 5, 2012.
- Copyright © 2012, American Heart Association