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Gurdon and Yamanaka take Physiology or Medicine Nobel for cell reprogramming

The Nobel Committee awarded this year’s prize in Physiology or Medicine to John Gurdon, of the University of Cambridge, UK, and Shinya Yamanka, of the University of Kyoto, Japan, for “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent”, this morning in Stockholm.

Working with frog eggs, Gurdon showed that the nucleus from a mature cell could be transplanted into an egg cell with its nucleus removed and produce a living frog. The technique, called somatic cell nuclear transfer, is often called cloning and it was used to produce Dolly the sheep. His work revolutionized the understanding of developmental biology and cell fate, showing that a genome contains all the information needed to transform a cell into a whole organism.

Yamanaka, on the other hand, showed that whole mammalian adult cells could be reverted into an embryonic-like state by treating them with a cocktail of protein factors. These induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are similar to embryonic stem cells that give rise to every tissue in the body. He achieved the feat first in mouse cells, and later with human cells. It is hoped that iPSC cells, transformed into myriad cell types, will be useful for regenerative medicine and drug testing.

A group led by James Thomson, of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, was also among those to report the first human iPSCs in 2007.

According to Google Scholar, Yamanaka’s 2006 publication describing mouse iPSCs has been cited more than 6,000 times, and his report on human iPSCs has garnered nearly 4,000 5,000 citations.

UPDATE – full story here.

Images courtesy Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, and University of California, San Francisco.


  1. Report this comment

    Adhikarla Rao said:

    It is very embarrassing that the amount of Nobel Prize money for Medicine has been reduced by 0.3million dollars. It is difficult to imagine that Nobel committee is in such a financial crisis. Even if it so , they should have solicited the additional money from donors rather than depriving the winners. There can be no dearth of donors at the global level for this Nobel cause. The value of Nobel Prize money should increase with time -not decrease.
    Dear Editor I would be happy if this comment is published in Nature issue rather than just publishing online.

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      komuro yukari said:

      I strongly agree with your opinion that the value of Nobel Prize money should increase.
      Doctor Yamanaka says ,on the site of his iPSCs group CiRA, that they need 5 hundred million for their research and study to achieve the goal (finally, to make it possible to use the technology for regenerative medicine) . And he asked us for help to make a donation for their project at his news conference.
      I think the Nobel committee should,at least, keep the upper limit of the sum.

  2. Report this comment

    komuro yukari said:

    Through this article, I was really surprised to know that medical evolution has reached the level which can change the commonly accepted theory.
    This summer there was a big news that Higgs boson had been discovered and it is said that the discovery can be one of the key to solve the mystery of the cosmos.
    I’m really surprised that many scientists still have succeed in discovering a new thing though many things are already found. I think it is a wonderful fact, but , I wish that it is just my childish fear, I am also worried that those fabulous discoveries and technologies can be used for a wrong purpose.

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