Science Fare Media

Stem cell science kicks off 2012 Nobel Prize announcements

Sir John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka share the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been jointly awarded to Sir John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for their discoveries that cells from developed creatures, like you and I, can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells – the generic, precursor cells that develop into every other type of cell in the body.

Science Fare Media’s Managing Editor, Lee Flohr, talked one-on-one with Sir John Gurdon about the science that got the two researchers summoned to Stockholm.

For his part, the United Kingdom’s Sir John Gurdon showed that if he transferred the nucleus – the part inside a cell that manages our DNA – from a developed tadpole’s gut into an unfertilized frog egg, it would develop into the same tadpole.  

Once this was confirmed by other researchers – who were initially skeptical of his finding – it would open the flood-gates to cloning, including the famous sheep named Dolly and expand our understanding of how an embryo develops.

Nearly 45 years later – and thanks, in part, to some phenomenal advances in both technology and our basic understanding of the cell – Japan’s Shinya Yamanaka, showed how a developed cell could be reprogrammed into a pluripotent stem cell simply by turning on a handful of genes.

Sir John Gurdon’s 1962 paper can be found, here.

Shinya Yamanka’s 2006 paper can be found, here.

Science Fare's Planet Now: