This is a preview of Chapter 4 (13 min) of STEM CELL REVOLUTIONS (71 min). Our educational packages come with all five dedicated chapters.
In 2006, a Japanese doctor revolutionised medical science and overturned ideas about human development. Each cell in our body contains the same genes, these genes are turned on and off in different combinations to create all the different types of cells in our bodies. For example, a skin cell has skin genes turned on and blood genes turned off. Orthopaedic surgeon Shinya Yamanaka questioned whether cells have to keep their specialised identities as skin, nerve, muscle, or guts. He showed that by turning on four embryonic stem cell genes in skin cells, he could convert those skin cells into a new kind of cell with the same properties as embryonic stem cells. The cells he made are known as induced pluripotent (iPS) cells. His finding has opened new frontiers for stem cell biology and holds promise for medical applications.
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