Japanese stem cell researcher wins top award

February 4, 2011
Professor Shinya Yamanaka of the Institute for Frontier Medical Science, Kyoto University, attends a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo 2008. Yamanaka was Friday honoured with a Spanish award worth 400,000 euros ($544,000) for his pioneering work on cell reprogramming.

Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka was Friday honoured with a Spanish award worth 400,000 euros ($544,000) for his pioneering work on cell reprogramming.

Yamanaka won the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine, the foundation announced.

The former orthopedic surgeon made his breakthrough discovery in 2006 when he succeeded in generating "induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells", or those capable of growing into other tissues in the body.

Until Yamanaka proved differently, scientists believed that this could only be achieved with harvested from embyros, the foundation said in a statement.

"The jury emphasised the exciting new vistas these cells open up for both basic and clinical research, with personalised therapies and more precisely targeted drugs," it added.

"The possibility of working with iPS cells derived from patients themselves will avoid treating patients as guinea pigs. It will allow novel cell-based to be used to search for small to treat a wide range of diseases.

"And, ultimately, it may also allow novel and even patient-specific cell-based treatments, in particular for degenerative disease."

Yamanaka said the idea of reversing the fate of already specialised cells, then a "no-can-do" in biology, came to him when studying the experiments that produced the first cloned frogs, in the 1970s, and Dolly the sheep in 1996, according to the foundation statement.

"From their work I learned that we should be able to convert back into their embryonic state. That is what inspired me to start my project," said Yamanaka, 48, the director of the Centre for iPS Cell Research and Application at Japan's Kyoto University.

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards, established in 2008, recognise research and artistic creation in eight categories.

Explore further: The future of stem cell research

Related Stories

The future of stem cell research

December 8, 2010

Perhaps no single scientist has had a greater impact on stem cell research than Dr. Shinya Yamanaka. While most of his colleagues were looking for ways to grow human embryonic stem cells into replacement tissues for treating ...

Stem cell breakthrough gets closer to the clinic

May 28, 2009

The technology for versatile, grow-in-a-dish transplant tissue took a step toward clinical use Thursday when researchers announced they have found a safe way to turn skin cells into stem cells.

Awards given for leukemia treatment, DNA advances

September 14, 2009

(AP) -- Five scientists have won prestigious research awards for developing a life-saving leukemia treatment and for advances in "reprogramming" DNA, which led to a new kind of stem cell.

Dental pulp cells for stem cell banking

June 17, 2010

Defined sets of factors can reprogram human cells to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. However, many types of human cells are not easily accessible to minimally invasive procedures.

Japanese stem cell researcher wins Balzan prize

September 6, 2010

(AP) -- The Balzan Foundation says its prize for the biology of stem cells has gone to a Japanese researcher for discovering a way to transform adult cells into cells with the characteristics of stem cells.

Recommended for you

SMiLE-seq: A new technique speeds up genetics

January 16, 2017

Scientists at EPFL have developed a technique that can be a game-changer for genetics by making the characterization of DNA-binding proteins much faster, more accurate, and efficient.

Study finds brain locale of metamemory in macaque monkeys

January 16, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with the University of Tokyo School of Medicine has found strong evidence for the location in the brain of metamemory in macaque monkeys. In their paper published in the journal Science, ...

Considering cattle could help eliminate malaria in India

January 16, 2017

The goal of eliminating malaria in countries like India could be more achievable if mosquito-control efforts take into account the relationship between mosquitoes and cattle, according to an international team of researchers.

How to be winner in the game of evolution

January 13, 2017

A new study by University of Arizona biologists helps explain why different groups of animals differ dramatically in their number of species, and how this is related to differences in their body forms and ways of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.