Nobel Prize-winning discovery gives hope to Hiro Fujita


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The Japanese are celebrating the winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Shinya Yamanaka shared the prize with the British scientist, John Gurden for breakthrough work in cell research. The new techniques open the door to new methods to diagnose and treat many types of diseases, such as neuron-degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s Disease. His work allows adult skin cells, when treated with relevant DNA, to become stem cells capable of generating all body cells – called iPS cells.

Hiro Fujita at home

TOKYO (majirox news) — No one is celebrating this work more than those suffering from incurable diseases. Many like Hiro Fujita have now been given new hope for a cure of their condition. Shinya Yamanaka’s discoveries have the potential to one day lead to new cell-based therapies for a variety of human diseases.

Two years ago, when Hiro was 30 years old and in the mist of a promising career as at McCann Erickson he was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gerhig’s disease. It slowly atrophies the body’s muscles and eventually leads to death.

Hiro lives in an apartment in Tokyo and has round the clock care. A caregiver and family help him, along with a group of 40 friends who take turns every night to cook for Hiro and put him to bed. He plans to live in his apartment as long as possible and now is encouraged by Yamanaka’s iPS cells discovery.

“Everyone is very much hopeful for a cure and this is the best bet we have so far,” Hiro said. “I think considering what they’ve done with animals it is very promising. I just hope they will build up the courage to test it on us and not just animals.”

Advances in science usually take a long time before they find practical application. But Yamanaka is determined that his discovery will be soon put to use, and this gives Hiro hope. At the moment, his situation is a challenge, and one that he overcomes on a daily basis.

“At some point, I chose to fight it, and not accept it. I enjoy fighting it with my friends and family, it gives me something to do, instead of just sitting here and feeling sorry for myself”,” Hiro said.

Hiro posses an amazing amount of courage and a great sense of humor. He even has a blog where he talks about the different emotions he goes through and is determined to make the best of his situation. He even goes to work when he’s up to it.

Hiro’s friend, Steve, said, “My wife and I just had a baby and we asked Hiro to name here, because we wanted her to have the same strength and courage that he has when she grows up. I think he’s a great role model in that way to me and my wife and certainly everyone who knows him. And we are always in his corner.”

Many wonder when the treatment will be available and how much promise it has in helping people suffering from these incurable diseases.

Reed Mauer, president of International Alliances Limited, said, “We are going to see three impacts: It’s going to stimulate a lot more money going into research in Japan. That’s going to to lead to new discoveries. It’s going to to the cells themselves that are going to be transplanted into human being to restore their eye sight, their hearing and maybe even restore pancreases cells to restore insulin function for diabetes.”

According to Mauer, we must be realistic and not create false hope in people on when treatment will be available

“The development of drugs take a long time,” he said. ” Safety is a big issue. These cells could cause cancer — we don’t know. That’s going take a long time with many clinical trials. So let’s not think this is going to happen tomorrow. But it’s coming and I would say within five years we going to be looking at new drugs to cure diseases.”

The Nobel Prize winner of Medicine Yamanaka developed a revolutionary method for inducing skin cells from mice into becoming pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. Yamanaka repeated his success with adult human skin cells.

“I am a doctor and a researcher,” Yamanka said. “Since my job is to help patients as a doctor, I would like to save patients who are suffering from diseases and those who are homebound in bed. I would like to give them back a normal life. ”

His work allows researchers to create cell lines that can be studied and used in everything from drug therapies to regenerative medicine.

It is early days yet, but Yamanaka’s breakthrough offers Hiro and other sufferers of similar diseases some of the best hope they have received to date. Yamanaka, whose work has made iPS cells a household phrase in Japan, is determined that his research will be used in practical ways – sooner, rather than later, and the nation of Japan is cheering him on.




















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One Response to Nobel Prize-winning discovery gives hope to Hiro Fujita

  1. bashar hashem on 12/06/2012 at 11:48 pm

    I had accident 5 years ago in Manila .Philippine,and had partail hip replacement .but surgeon in St Lukes screw up and made my leg 2 inches longer.can we have stem cell in ready to come to Japan.
    thanks and best regards

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