Last month, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012 was awarded jointly to Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent".
STEM CELLS - THE FUTURE: AN INTRODUCTION TO IPS CELLS by Amy Hardie and Clare Blackburn tells the story of this extraordinary scientific discovery that has changed the way we think about human biology.
The 16 minute film features exclusive interviews with Shinya Yamanaka, the Nobel prizewinner who discovered these remarkable cells. Together with other leading stem cell researchers Austin Smith, Connie Eaves, Ian Wilmut, Oliver Brustle and Jose Silva he talks about the scientific, medical and ethical implications of his discovery that mature cells, such as skin cells, can be reprogrammed back to a pluripotent state using just four factors.
In the film, Austin Smith describes the magnitude of Yamanaka's work: "Shinya Yamanaka’s desire to help his patients led to a brilliant experiment. This took us to the limits of our knowledge. In fact in took us beyond them and revealed something really extraordinary."
A growing library of stem cell films
The 16 minute film continues the story begun in award-winning introduction to stem cell research, A stem cell story. Cameron Duguid's distinctive animations are again used to great effect to illustrate the complex and fascinating science behind the discovery of iPS cells. Clare Blackburn, the film's scientific producer, comments: "This film was a logical addition to our collection - we completed our first film, A stem cell story, just as Shinya Yamanaka's groundbreaking work in iPS cells was first published, and the subject has been on our filmmaking radar since! We are delighted to be able to share this film in time for the awarding of the Nobel prizes next month."
The same team is behind the recently-released feature documentary Stem Cell Revolutions, which charts the history and scientific evolution of stem cell research, from the earliest experiments to leading current scientific and clinical developments, and watch out for a new film, "The cell's fate", to be released early next year.
Teaching iPS cells
STEM CELLS - THE FUTURE has been carefully structured to work well as an engaging educational tool for 16+ year olds. It will be available on DVD in February 2013 (with subtitles in five languages), and can be viewed online now (see above). For more information about using the film in the classroom, including supporting materials, see our Toolkit page.
You might also be interested in the BIG view of stem cells - a synchronised viewing of the film in secondary schools on 10 December to celebrate the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to stem cell pioneers John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka. Read more about how to take part in the BIG view of stem cells.