Scientists receive Nobel Prize for stem cell research
Alfred Nobel had an active interest in medical research and close links to the Karolinska
Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, who award the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine
that is the third annual prize Nobel mentioned in his will.
In 1901, Emil von
Behring was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on
serum therapy, particularly for its use in the treatment of diphtheria. The Medicine
Prize has subsequently highlighted a number of important discoveries including penicillin,
genetic engineering and blood-typing.
This year the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology
or Medicine recognizes two scientists who discovered that mature, specialised cells
can be reprogrammed to become immature cells capable of developing into all tissues
of the body. Their findings have revolutionised our understanding of how cells and
Sir John B. Gurdon, born in 1933 in Dippenhall, UK, 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 same technique would eventually lead to Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal.
Yamanaka, born in Osaka, Japan in 1962, 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.
The future possibilities lead the way for a persons
own skin or blood cells being used to regenerate tissues to repair the heart after
a heart attack or even the reversal of Alzheimer's disease.
regional correspondent Matthew French’s full report: