Stem cell technologies could be used to cure diseases and heal injuries within
10 years, a Japanese scientist who recently broke new ground in the field said
on Wednesday.


Shinya Yamanaka

of Kyoto University, whose team reported in November they reprogrammed human
skin cells to be indistinguishable from stem cells taken from human embryos,
said the new technology is so simple that many laboratories are competing to
make further

meeting reporters in Tokyo, said it was a matter of time before such stem cell
technology was used in

“I can tell
for some patients and for some diseases it may be not, like, 10 years, but for
some diseases I can imagine it can take longer than 10 years,” Yamanaka

“That depends on
diseases and injuries. There’s no single answer,” he

Stem cells are primitive
cells that eventually turn into any of the 220 different types of cells in the
human body.

Stem cells offer
enormous potential for curing and treating disease because it is hoped they can
replace damaged or diseased cells, tissues and

But stem cell research
has been highly controversial because – until now – viable embryos had to be
destroyed to extract the stem

The research by
Yamanaka’s team, who worked alongside US researchers led by James Thomson
of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, was praised by the Roman Catholic
Church and other critics of embryo

The research has
since accelerated. Yamanaka said that up to five laboratories in the United
States and several in Japan have since also produced stem cells from human skin,
known as pluripotent stem cells, or iPS

“This is because
technology is very simple,” he said. “All you need is a basic
technology, cell biology” and “you don’t need special
technology or

Yamanaka said
having lots of rivals in his research area has caused him a lot of stress but
that he believes “it speeds up everything, the process, because of the

“So I
think it’s very good for patients who are waiting” for treatment, he
said. He also said that creating a bank to store a new type of stem cell
produced from donors’ ordinary skin cells could help reduce time and money
for treating patients with regenerative medicine in the future.

Via Times of India