Nobel Prize in Medicine 2012 for Stem Cells
The British John Gurdon and the Japanese Shinya Yamanaka shared this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine. Their Achievement: They succeeded at transforming differentiated cells into pluripotent stem cells, thus laying the foundation for regenerative medicine.
As a student, 79-year-old Guntron discovered in 1962 that cellular differentiation is not one-way path. In order to investigate whether the specialized cells maintain or lose the DNA they are not using, Gurdon replaced the nucleus of a frog’s egg with the nucleus of an intestinal cell.
When the tadpole came out of this egg, Gurdon firmly confirmed that the cells retain the DNA they are not using. In addition, the egg had the ability to use this information.
It took four full decades to spend for the Japanese Shinya Yamanaka in 2006 to demonstrate that even the differentiated mammalian cells had similar properties. Yamanaka inserted 4 genes into differentiated mouse cells and succeeded the transforming them to pluripotent stem cells which, with appropriate molecular guidance, could be further transformed into all cell types of the body.