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STAP細胞 理系女子の発想が常識覆した

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 1, 2014
Female researcher’s innovative idea leads to breakthrough discovery
STAP細胞 理系女子の発想が常識覆した(2月1日付・読売社説)

An international research team’s discovery of a new method for obtaining pluripotent cells represents an epoch-making achievement that may defy well-established theories in biology.
 生物学の常識を覆す画期的な発見である。

The team, led by Haruko Obokata of the Kobe-based Riken Center for Developmental Biology and including researchers from Harvard University in the United States, has successfully produced pluripotent cells that can grow into mature tissues or organs of any sort.
 理化学研究所の小保方晴子さんのほか、米ハーバード大などのチームが新たな手法で、様々な組織や臓器の細胞に育つ「万能細胞」を作り出すことに成功した。

Lymphocytes collected from mice were bathed in acid solution to produce the cells. They were also created through another method of applying stimulus to mouse lymphocytes by exposing them to toxins or passing them through a narrow glass tube.
 マウスの細胞(リンパ球)を弱い酸性の液に漬けた。毒素を加えたり、細いガラス管に通したりと別の刺激でも作製できた。

If the new method proves successful for human cells, it could be applied for regenerative medicine to bring damaged tissue or organs back to health. We want to laud the new discovery for opening up a wide array of possibilities.
 ヒトの細胞でも成功すれば、傷んだ組織や臓器を蘇(よみがえ)らせる再生医療に応用できる。幅広い可能性を開く成果を称(たた)えたい。

The team calls the new method “stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP)” and the cells it produces “STAP cells.”
 研究チームは、こうして作り出した万能細胞を「STAP細胞」と呼んでいる。STAPとは、「刺激によって引き起こされた多能性の獲得」という意味だ。

Many living things start with fertilized eggs that differentiate into tissues and organs. It was conventionally believed that differentiated tissues could not return to the undifferentiated state of a fertilized egg. So it is no wonder that STAP cells have captured the world’s attention.
 生物は、受精卵から始まり、組織や臓器に分化していく。分化後は受精卵に逆戻りしないとされてきただけに、STAP細胞に世界が注目するのはうなずける。

The team contributed the initial version of its research paper to a science journal last year. But thanks to highly unexpected method for producing pluripotent cells, the publisher swiftly sent it back, reportedly saying that the paper mocked the history of cell biology. Undaunted, team leader Obokata and other researchers tenaciously pushed on with experiments to reinforce the data, thereby realizing the publication of their discovery in the journal.
 意外な手法に、研究チームが一昨年、科学誌に論文を初投稿した時は「細胞生物学の歴史を愚弄している」と突き返された。だが、研究リーダーの小保方さんたちは粘り強く実験を重ね、データを補強して発表にこぎ着けた。

There are two other well-known types of such versatile cells: embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Production of these two types of pluripotent cells requires going through a complicated process, including gene manipulation.
 万能細胞には、ES細胞(胚性幹細胞)やiPS細胞(人工多能性幹細胞)がある。作製には遺伝子操作など複雑な工程を経る。

The STAP cell, which is a third type of pluripotent cell, can be produced by utilizing the latent potential inherent in living cells.
 これに対し、「第3の万能細胞」であるSTAP細胞は、生物の細胞にもともと備わった能力を生かして作られる。

Fleshing out the process

What happens to the cells after they are stimulated? A detailed elucidation of the mechanisms behind the process is an important task to tackle in the future. Such findings could be expected to contribute to research into the mechanisms that cause the growing and aging of living things as well as diseases.
 刺激を加えたことで細胞に何が起きたか。その詳しい仕組みの解明が今後の重要課題だ。生物の成長と老化、病気の仕組みの探求にも貢献するだろう。

Behind this breakthrough discovery is the priority assistance given to research on regenerative medicine by the government. The Riken Center for Developmental Biology, to which Obokata belongs, is a research center for regenerative medicine established with such government aid.
 今回の成果の背景には、政府が再生医療研究を重点支援してきたことがある。小保方さんが所属している理研発生・再生科学総合研究センター(神戸市)も政府が整備した再生医療の研究拠点だ。

International competition in the field is fierce, and the government’s continued assistance will be a must.
 この分野の国際競争は激しい。引き続き支援が必要だ。

At 30, Obokata is still a young researcher. She will be a role model for young researchers in displaying creative power and building cooperative relationships with veteran researchers.
 小保方さんはまだ30歳の若い研究者だ。発想力に加え、ベテラン研究者と協力関係を築く行動力など若手研究者の模範となろう。

Her achievement may encourage other female researchers and women majoring in the sciences who aspire to become researchers.
 女性研究者や、研究者を目指している理系女子「リケジョ」の励みになるかもしれない。

Women account for a mere 14 percent of researchers in Japan today, the lowest ratio among industrialized countries. The government’s basic plan for science and technology targets boosting that figure to 30 percent, but many women still leave work in research laboratories after having children and for other reasons.
 日本の女性研究者の比率は14%にすぎず、先進国で最低だ。政府の科学技術基本計画は30%を目標に掲げるが、出産などを機に研究現場を去る女性は多い。

Needless to say, family support is crucial to female researchers. So are good government policies to aid them.
家族の協力はもちろん、リケジョの活躍を後押しする政策が重要だ。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 1, 2014)
(2014年2月1日01時37分 読売新聞)
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by kiyoshimat | 2014-02-03 07:15 | 英字新聞

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