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Kyoto Univ. team makes iPS cells from human cells

A team of researchers led by Kyoto University experts has succeeded in creating induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from human skin cells. iPS cells are similar to embryonic stem (ES) cells which grow into various human tissues and organs. The achievement by the group, headed by Professor Shinya Yamanaka of the university's Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, was reported in the online version of the Nov. 20 issue of the U.S. science journal Cell.The Yamanaka team succeeded in making iPS cells using mouse somatic cells last year for the first time in the world.
ES cells were once spotlighted in the field of regenerative medicine but have given rise to ethical questions since they are made through the engineering of egg cells or fertilized eggs. In addition, ES cells have a medical disadvantage in that they tend to be rejected by recipients of transplanted organs. The feat thus has paved the way for new applications of iPS cells in regenerative medicine.
The Yamanaka team's achievement was widely reported by mass media and evoked global repercussions.The Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which has strongly opposed studies on ES cells from the ethical viewpoint, issued a statement giving high marks to the outcome. The German cancer Research Center (DKFZ) based in Heidelberg announced on Nov. 26 that it will award Yamanaka the Meyenburg prize that honors scientists contributing to cancer research.

For inquiries, please contact: Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University (Tel: 075-751-3839; URL: http://www.jst.go.jp/).