Nobel Prize Awarded for Stem Cell Reprogramming
Two sets of experiments, performed 40 years apart, have been recognized with today’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Cambridge University’s John Gurdon won for showing that adult cells contain all the genetic information necessary to create every tissue in the body. That work set the stage for Shinya Yamanaka, who demonstrated that a relatively simple process could convert adult cells into embryonic stem cells. That development is already opening new avenues of research, and it holds the promise of new ways to repair tissues damaged by injury or disease.
…Stem cell work in general has raised the prospect that we could repair injured or damaged tissue with newly generated cells that are just as specialized as the ones they are replacing. But Yamanaka’s work has turned that prospect into a vision of on-demand tissues, generated with a simple lab procedure, and a perfect genetic match for their recipient. The cells produced with the procedure he pioneered don’t seem to be an exact match for cells derived from embryos, but it appears that they may be close enough that the difference doesn’t matter.
…it’s widely accepted that Gurdon’s work fostered a change in perspective that was necessary for people to even start thinking about the studies that eventually led to stem cell manipulations. …Two years ago, Gurdon and Yamanaka were honored with a Lasker Prize, which often precedes Nobel status.
(via A not-so-simple twist of fate: Nobel awarded for stem cell reprogramming | Ars Technica)