On Monday October 8, 2012, the Nobel Prize for medicine was presented to John Gurdon of the University of Cambridge in England and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan. They have been awarded for their deep insights and revolutionary discoveries in stem cell research. Their half-century studies on this topic have proven their dedication and commitment to this field of medicine.
In 1962, Gurdon first amazed the world with his successful genetic cloning of a frog by transplanting an ordinary intestinal cell into the egg of a frog. The egg fertilized proving that the entire genetic coding was found in regular cells. Furthermore, this discovery led to the cloning of Dolly in 1997. More recently, Yamanaka learned how to revitalize cells by taking them “back in time” to the embryonic stage of life in hopes that someday they will be able to grow and harvest new organs. Since these organs will be developed from the cells of the individuals who need them, they will hopefully not be rejected by the human body since they contain identical genetic information.
These breakthroughs in medical discoveries bring hope to individuals or families who face common medical issues such as Parkinson’s or heart disease. With these advances, this research could potentially pave the way for new organs identical to the owner’s body and genetics. In addition, this research has allowed these scientists to study diseases and develop improved treatment options for the future. To learn more on the winners of the Nobel Prize in medicine and their discoveries, read the following articles:
New York Times: Cloning and Stem Cell Work Earns Nobel
Washington Post: Nobel Prize for Medicine Awarded to Gurdon, Yamanaka for Stem Cell Discoveries