Cell transformation earns Nobel Prize

Posted: October 15, 2012 at 6:21 am

About a week ago, the Nobel Prize winners in medicine were revealed as Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for their work in cell research.

The award was given to these two doctors for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent." That is, any mature cells can go back to their original state, thus reversing the process of cell aging.

Yamanaka was able to draw this conclusion due to a combination of his own research and the research of Gurdon done 40 years earlier.

In 1962, Gurdon was able to take the nucleus from a frogs intestine and place it into a frogs egg. From this, a normal frog was born. Gurdons research was inspiration to Yamanakas experiment, where he wanted to reverse the process of cell maturity without using an egg.

He was able to figure out a gene combination, which he inserted into a mature cell, so that the cell was able to go back to its primitive state.

According to Yamanaka, whats significant about this technology is not only can we avoid the ethical controversy of using embryos, but also a transplant patient can avoid organ rejection because the treatment will be done by using the patients own cells and not somebody elses.

Past controversy of stem cell research has come from the fact that in order to examine a brand new cell, the scientist would have to kill an embryo. Yamanaka also mentions that this discovery may some day be a possible cure for Parkinsons disease.

Since, Yamanakas discovery was made in 2006, classroom textbooks have already been changed and biology teachers have been informing their students about this new method.

DePaul professor Dr. Elizabeth LeClaire talked to her biology students about the research Thursday.

I dont think [the research] will revolutionize the world of medicine, said LeClaire. This may not be the answer you want to hear, but most diseases are very common and are caused by diet and exercise.

Originally posted here:
Cell transformation earns Nobel Prize

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