The Japanese Shinya Yamanaka and Briton John B. Gurdon have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2012. This time, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has sought to distinguish the two scientists for their key contributions in the field of cell reprogramming.
“Their findings have revolutionized our understanding of how cells develop and agencies,” the organization said in a statement.
“This award,” the text continues, “recognizes those who found that mature cells, specialized, can be reprogrammed in order to become immature cells , able to become all tissues of the body, “he stresses.
Since 1901, the Swedish Academy awarded annually this distinction,endowed with 10 million Swedish kronor (1.08 million), a figure that has made the most important discovery in the field of physiology or medicine.
Among the favorites for the award of 2012 also included David Allis and Michael Grunstein, for his advances in epigenetics. In addition, the names sounded tight and Anthony Pawson Anthony Hunter, who already received the Prince of Asturias Award in 2004 for his contributions to the understanding of cell growth and division.
However, eventually, Yamanaka and Gurdon were chosen by their advances “have changed textbooks” and “have created new opportunities for the study of diseases and the development of diagnostic methods and therapies”, such and has advanced the organization.
Turn back the ‘clock’ cell
Until the 60s, it was believed that, in the development, specialization of cells was unidirectional. That is, that once appeared nerve or muscle cells in a living, you could not turn back the ‘clock’ biological and again convert this material into pluripotent (able to become any tissue), such as the embryonic stage.
Gurdon in 1962 shattered that belief by demonstrating, in an experiment on frogs, a mature intestinal cell could provide a primitive organism with all necessary information for proper development.
Four decades later, Shinya Yamanaka jumped in this way and found that, instead of manipulating embryos, it was possible to reprogram mature cells of mice to return to its initial stage.
Knowing the award, the Japanese scientist has claimed that his “goal is to bring the technology of stem cells to patients, to clinics,” as pointed out inan interview granted to this newspaper in 2011.
In a press conference held in Kyoto, Yamanaka, stated that the award would not have succeeded had it not been for the support of his native Japan. “It was an unknown researcher. If not received the support of my country would not have gotten the award. Was the country of Japan that won the award,” said, before attending a live ‘s greeting Koizumi, Yoshihiko Noda , to which the cameras and microphones thanked “the support of all of Japan” and said it will continue its efforts to advance their research.
In fact, the director of the Centre for Research and Application of iPS cells from Kyoto University not spend much time at celebrations judging by his words: “from next week I have to concentrate on research and care for students whose thesis I address “.
Gurdon, meanwhile, he was “greatly honored” by what he described as “a spectacular recognition.” The biologist, a pioneer in the field of stem cells and cloning, has confessed “delighted” to receive this award with Yamanaka. “It is particularly pleasing to see how simple investigations, which originally sought to test the genetic identity of different types of stem cells in the body have become a distinct possibility for human health , “said Gurdon
In last year’s edition, shared the prize Bruce A. Beutler, Jules A.Hoffmann and Ralph M. Steinman (who died days before the award) for his research in the field of immunology and vaccines.
Meanwhile, in 2010 the winner was Robert Edwards , who, together with Patrick Steptoe, made possible the development of IVF ‘.
Since its founding, the Nobel was awarded to one person 38 times. Two have been the winners on 31 occasions and a group of three scientists has been the distinction in another 33 editions.
In the coming days will meet the winners of the Physics and Chemistry, while Friday is the only grant that is awarded Nobel and awarded in Oslo, the Peace.
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