The awarding of the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine this year went to an especially noteworthy recipient, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, a Japanese pharmacologist and researcher. Breakpoint's Eric Metaxas offers a good introduction to the man and his work:
Listen Now | DownloadThirteen years ago, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, a Japanese pharmacologist and researcher, made a social call to a friend’s fertility clinic. His friend invited him to look at some human embryos through a microscope.
What Yamanaka saw set him on a path that culminated in a Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology. And in the process has won him praise from the pro-life community.
As Yamanaka later told the “New York Times,” “when I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters . . . I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.”
The search for “another way” took eight years, but eventually Yamanaka and his colleagues at Kyoto University discovered a way to turn “adult skin cells into the equivalent of human embryonic stem cells without using an actual embryo.”
Using methods first developed with laboratory mice, Yamanaka and company “reprogrammed” the adult skin cells by adding “genes called master regulators to the skin cells’ chromosomes. These genes can change the cell’s behavior by turning other genes on and off.”