The research studies carried out by John B. Gurdon (Anglo-Saxon) and Shinya Yamanaka (Japanese) were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. These two scientists are considered of being the fathers of cellular reprogramming. They have achieved to create cells that behave identically to embryonic cells, however, without having to destroy human embryos. The Swiss Academy declared that both Gurdon and Yamanaka have revolutionized the current knowledge of how cells and organisms are developed, which has led to the perfection of the absurd methods of diagnosis and therapy.
Jhon Bertrand Gurdon, professor of the Zoology Department of the University of Cambridge, admitted of feeling extremely honored for such a spectacular privilege.
Moreover, Shinya Yamanaka discovered the so called “induced pluripotent stem cells” (iPS), which have the same proprieties of the embryonic ones and are able to turn into whatever other type of body cell. He asserted that he will continue to conduct research in order to contribute to society and medicine. For him that is a duty.
Yamanaka created four types of genes that supply cells with their pluripotentiality, in other words, the same capacity that embryonic stem cells have. If implanted in differentiated cells, for example of skin, they become pluripotent stem cells. The iPS supply a vast amount of plasticity just as embryonic stem cells do, however, without requiring the extermination or cloning of human embryos, since the initial cells can be obtained from the same patient. In this aspect, these cells have the same status as adult stem cells do, with the advantage of their versatility.
The dilema that has been stirred by the iPS is being resolved due to recent studies carried out by Leisuke Kaji (Universidad de Edimburgo) and Andreas Nagy (Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital of Toronto).
The created iPS perennially retain their pluripotentiality. There is still the need of research to be conducted concerning the control of the difference between these cells in order for them to create the tissue that is necessary for each case. As Kaji affirms in “The Guardian”, it is a step towards the practical use of reprogrammed cells in the field of medicine, which could eventually lead to eliminating the need of counting on human embryos as the main source of stem cells.
The Episcopal Subcommittee for the Family and Defense of Life of the Episcopal Conference, beliefs that no Catholic could support practices such as abortion, euthanasia or the production, freezing and/or manipulation of human embryos.
Moreover, the Dictionary of Bioethics stated that the use of embryonic stem cells for therapeutic purposes is gravely illicit. (Translated by Gianna A. Sanchez-Moretti)