Nobel prize for cell reprogramming
The 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine has been awarded to Sir John Gurdon of the UK and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan, for their discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become stem cells capable of developing all tissues in the body.
In its citation the Karolinska Institute, which awards the prize, says their findings have revolutioned our understand of how cells and organisms develop.
Sir John Gurdon discovered in 1962 that the specialization of cells is reversible. More than 40 years later Shinya Yamanaka discovered how mature cells in mice could become immature stem cells, able to develop into all types of cells in the body.
Karolinska writes: “These discoveries have also provided new tools for scientists around the world and led to remarkable progress in many areas of medicine. iPS cells can also be prepared from human cells.”
Radio Sweden's Tom Sullivan spoke to Professor Juleen Zierath, who is a member of the Nobel Committee and a professor of clinical physiology at Karolinska Institute, she explains more about the background to the prize.
Meanwhile, our colleagues at Swedish Radio's Science Department managed to speak to Sir John Gurdon just after the announcement. He was overjoyed at becoming a Nobel laureate.
He was also more than happy to share the award with Japanese-born Shinya Yamanaka.