Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • EU leaders choose Tusk and Mogherini for top jobs, discuss Russia sanctions

    Read more

  • Dozens of UN peacekeepers still held by Syrian jihadists

    Read more

  • Opposition protesters clash with Pakistani police outside PM's house

    Read more

  • Austerity row overshadows French Socialist’s annual rally

    Read more

  • Egypt sentences Brotherhood leader Badie to life

    Read more

  • Ceasfire allows Gaza families to relax on the beach

    Read more

  • S. Africa condemns 'military coup' in Lesotho

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

SCIENCE

Stem cell pioneers win Nobel Prize for medicine

Latest update : 2012-10-08

John Gurdon (left) of Cambridge University and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan’s Kyoto University have won the Nobel Prize for medicine for their work on stem cells, discovering that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become any tissues of the body.

Shinya Yamanaka of Japan and John Gurdon of Britain won the Nobel Prize on Monday for work in cell programming, a frontier that has raised dreams of growing replacement tissue for people crippled by disease.

The two scientists were lauded for determining that adult cells can be transformed back to an infant, versatile state called stem cells.

"Their findings have revolutionised our understanding of how cells and organisms develop," the Nobel jury declared.

By reprogramming human cells, "scientists have created new opportunities to study diseases and develop methods for diagnosis and therapy," it added.

Stem cells are precursor cells which differentiate into the various organs of the body.

They have stirred huge excitement, with hopes that they can be coaxed into growing into replacement tissue for victims of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other diseases.

Gurdon's achievement in 1962 was to discover that the DNA code in the nucleus of an adult frog cell held all the information to develop into every kind of cell.

This meant that an adult cell could in essence be reprogrammed.

His landmark discovery was initially met with scepticism, as the journey from immature to specialised cell was previously deemed irreversible.

But his theory became accepted when it was confirmed by other scientists.

More than four decades later, in 2006, Yamanaka discovered how mature cells in mice could in fact be turned back to their youthful state.

The advantage of this would be to avert the need to use stem cells taken from early-stage embryos. These are hugely versatile but have stirred ethical controversy.

Stem-cell research is still at a very early stage, and only a tiny number of human trials have taken place.

"The discoveries of Gurdon and Yamanaka have shown that specialised cells can turn back the developmental clock under certain circumstances," the committee said.

"For instance, skin cells can be obtained from patients with various diseases, reprogrammed, and examined in the laboratory to determine how they differ from cells of healthy individuals," it said.

The Swedish media had in recent days broadly tipped the pair to take home the honour.

Gurdon, born in 1933, is currently at the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, while Yamanaka, 50, is a professor at Kyoto University in Japan.

Because of the economic crisis, the Nobel Foundation has slashed the prize sum to eight million Swedish kronor ($1.2 million, 930,000 euros) per award, down from the 10 million kronor awarded since 2001.

Last year, the honour went to Bruce Beutler of the United States, Jules Hoffmann of France and Ralph Steinman of Canada, for their groundbreaking work on the immune system.

This year's laureates will receive their prize at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

(AFP)

 

Date created : 2012-10-08

  • BURMA

    At long last, Burma's Suu Kyi delivers Nobel speech

    Read more

  • OBITUARY

    Nobel Prize-winning poet Szymborska dies aged 88

    Read more

  • Norway

    Three women accept Nobel Peace Prize

    Read more

COMMENT(S)