While it may seem like we hear more about advances in consumer electronics than any other field when it comes to technology, there are massive breakthroughs in the medical technology field happening every day. Some of the biggest advances came from the work of John B. Gurdon of the United Kingdom and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan. Gurdon and Yamanaka have been awarded the Nobel Prize in the field of Physiology or Medicine for their efforts in the field of cellular reprogramming.
The two scientist’s techniques have opened up a whole host of different treatments ranging from cell cloning to treating certain diseases using a patient’s own cells. The two also showed that when a human cell is removed from the body, it can be returned to a sort of embryonic state that can make for other fantastic advances in cellular regeneration technology. The scientific community looks at this particular advance as though the scientists are actually able to turn back time.
Martin Evans, a British stem-cell pioneer who shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for medicine, talked about the two scientist’s work in a recent interview where he said their work "has changed the accepted dogma that mature cells are condemned to exist in a specialized state.” Cellular reprogramming was such an incredible leap forward that it actually spawned the rewriting of text books and led to a renewed fervor in that particular area of science.
This cellular reprogramming has led to the cloning of cells and on a larger scale, to the cloning of actual animals such as frogs, and a sheep. The process also allows researchers to create embryonic-like stem cells, thereby getting rid of the need to destroy actual embryonic stem cells, a practice that has drawn fire from anti-abortion groups. This practice of cellular reprogramming can have wide reaching effects on the health of the human body in the very near future as scientists perfect turning these embryonic tissues into heart, nerve, muscle and virtually all other tissues types.
Edited by Brooke Neuman