Shinya Yamanaka’s 2006 discovery that adult cells, such as skin, could be reprogrammed so that they behave like embryonic stem cells, has led to countless follow-up scientific studies, new understandings of human diseases, new strategies for developing drugs and stem-cell based therapies. It also led to a Nobel Prize in Medicine for Yamanaka and UK researcher Sir John Gurdon last year (we blogged about the prize here, here, and here.)
The rate of newly published reports about these “induced pluripotent stem cells”, or iPS cells, continues to move at an astonishing rate. For those of you who find yourself saying, “Whoa! Whoa! Slow down a minute, will ya? Give me a chance to catch up.”, I highly recommend a documentary posted late last year by EuroStemCell entitled, “Stem cells - the future: an introduction to iPS cells”.
The 16-minute documentary directed by Amy Hardie and produced by Clare Blackburn of the University of Edinburgh, provides both a primer on iPS cells as well as a brief history lesson on how Dr. Yamanaka pioneered the reprogramming technique. The film features several interviews with Yamanaka. Don’t miss the beautiful hand-drawn animated illustrations by Cameron Duguid that really help explain the cellular and molecular events that take place during the creation of iPS cells.
For educators, there is also a Toolkit page to support the use of the film in the classroom for 16+ year olds. To view other films about stem cells on the EuroStemCell website, go here.