Stem Cell Researchers Share Nobel Medicine Prize

Posted: October 9, 2012 at 6:11 am

British researcher John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka from Japan have shared the Nobel prize for medicine or physiology.

The two pioneers of stem cell research were awarded the prize for transforming specialised cells into stem cells, which can become any other type of cell in the body.

John Gurdon discovered in 1962 that the specialisation of cells is reversible. In a classic experiment, he replaced the immature cell nucleus in an egg cell of a frog with the nucleus from a mature intestinal cell. This modified egg cell developed into a normal tadpole. The DNA of the mature cell still had all the information needed to develop all cells in the frog.

Shinya Yamanaka discovered more than 40 years later, in 2006, how intact mature cells in mice could be reprogrammed to become immature stem cells. Surprisingly, by introducing only a few genes, he could reprogram mature cells to become pluripotent stem cells, i.e. immature cells that are able to develop into all types of cells in the body.

These groundbreaking discoveries have completely changed our view of the development and cellular specialisation.

By reprogramming human cells, scientists have created new opportunities to study diseases and develop methods for diagnosis and therapy.

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Stem Cell Researchers Share Nobel Medicine Prize

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