The 2010 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine has been granted to Shinya Yamanaka, “for his work showing that it is possible, with a limited set of defined factors, to reprogram differentiated cells back into a state that is characteristic of pluripotent cells.
The development of iPS cells opens up many questions of basic biology about pluripotency and about the nature of the differentiated state and of the epigenetic programs that give cells their special characteristics. The ability to derive iPS cells from patients opens brand new vistas for medical discovery that have the potential to give many novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
The study of iPS cells may allow novel insights into human genetic disease, working with cells in the petri dish rather than treating the patients as guineas pigs. It will allow novel cell-based screening methods to be used to search for small molecule drugs to treat a wide range of diseases. And, ultimately, it may also allow novel and even patent-specific cell-based treatments, in particular for degenerative disease.
His work constitutes a paradigm shift where he has fundamentally altered the landscape of basic developmental biology. Electrifying the stem cell field of biomedical research, the development of iPS cells has accelerated the possibility of translating cell-based regenerative medicine from the bench to the clinic.”