Life Science Blog

Nobel Prize in medicine recognizes discoveries in cloning and stem cell research

A British and Japanese researcher share the award

October 8, 2012

The Nobel Assembly jointly awarded John Gurden of Great Britain and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine today. The award, for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to differentiate into many types of basic cells, recognizes the complementary research of both scientists working independently of one another, with almost half a century between their respective discoveries.

Gurden, famous for pioneering the cloning technique that eventually brought us Dolly, turned the scientific world on its head when in 1962 he announced that he had been able to produce functioning tadpoles from mature frog cells. Previously, scientists thought that it was impossible for adult cells to travel backward to a state of immaturity following specialization. After destroying the nucleus of a frog egg, Gurden and his team implanted a fully differentiated intestinal cell nucleus from a tadpole in its place, producing a clone and changing the way we understand the cell specialization process.

More than 40 years later Yamanaka found a way to reprogram the genes of adult cells to behave like undifferentiated stem cells, terming the new cells “induced pluripotent stem cells,” or iPS cells. Instead of implanting a cell nucleus, Yamanaka inserted four genes into the nucleus of an adult mouse skin cell, a process he duplicated with human skin cells a year later. The result was a method of creating stem cells without destroying human embryos, minimizing the ethical quandaries associated with stem cell research.

Though the discovery is a long way off from being translated into treatment, it greatly expands the potential for research into degenerative disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

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About the Author

Roni Jacobson graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in psychology. Following a stint teaching Arabic in Minnesota, she started work as a behavior therapist at the Marcus Autism Center, where she learned about research methodology and gathered material for some gripping stories. Roni has worked in mental health policy at The Carter Center for the past year, and is excited to have found an outlet for her experiences at SHERP.

Discussion

4 Comments

Here is a simple, non-technical explanation on the basics on which the Nobel Prize winning work is based on.

http://wp.me/p1z4hZ-d6

Please do read and leave your opinion! TY

masoom says:

In these days peoples wants to know about Nutrition and Human Physiology and there is great research papers and the work of John Gurden in this field really really great

Anonymous says:

A career in journalism is not worth the money for Emory University and NYU unless if you are making close to six figures; you will be in debt for many years unless if your parents are extremely rich. Each payment every month for an education from NYU and Emory would be a big mortgage payment!

Stem Cells says:

It’s a great discovery. Stem cells research still continues and I really hope more achievements will be made in this field.

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