• Sweden edition
 
2012 NOBEL PRIZES
Nobel in medicine goes to stem cell researchers

Nobel in medicine goes to stem cell researchers

Published: 08 Oct 2012 11:08 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Oct 2012 17:36 GMT+02:00

They shared the prize jointly "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent".

"The Nobel Prize recognizes two scientists who discovered that mature, specialized cells can be reprogrammed to become immature cells capable of developing into all tissues of the body. Their findings have revolutionized our understanding of how cells and organisms develop," the Nobel Committee at the Karolinska Institute wrote in a statement on Monday.

The Local asked the panel how the discovery affects debate about moral aspects of stem cell research.

"We have a very open debate in science, the Nobel Committee does not participate so much in that, but we as individual scientists and physicians do, and regulations evolve according to a general consensus of what is acceptable in society," said Anna Wedell, professor and researcher at the Karolinksa Institute.

"Every great discovery in biology that has applications in humans needs to be discussed and that is being done. We try to contribute to the best of our knowledge."

Gurdon discovered in 1962 that the specialization of cells is reversible. He replaced the immature cell nucleus in an egg cell of a frog with the nucleus from a mature intestinal cell. This modified egg cell developed into a normal tadpole. The DNA of the mature cell still had all the information needed to develop all cells in the frog.

Yamanaka discovered more than 40 years later, in 2006, how intact mature cells in mice could be reprogrammed to become immature stem cells. Surprisingly, by introducing only a few genes, he could reprogram mature cells to become pluripotent stem cells, i.e. immature cells that are able to develop into all types of cells in the body.

According to Jonas Frisén, a professor of stem cell research at Karolinska and a member of the Nobel Assembly, the discoveries of Gurdon and Yamanaka can be likened to finding the "master key" of cell biology.

"One can distinguish two major advances here. One is conceptual in how we understand how cells are locked into their specialist states and that it's actually possible to reverse this process," he told The Local.

"The other is in terms of applications and these discoveries have resulted in the technology to generate stems cells which can give rise to all cell types in the body and this is a very major practical advancement."

Frisén mentioned the neurological disorder Parkinson's as one of the diseases which could end up being treated as a result of the discoveries.

"Now it's possible to take a skin cell from a patient and reverse it to a stem cell state and then generate neurons from them," he explained.

While there is a great deal of interest in applying the findings to treatments for neurological diseases, they can also be applied to many other diseases, ranging from heart failure to diabetes.

However, Frisén added that it's still too early to say exactly when cell transplantation treatment may occur in humans, one of the possibilities the 2012 Nobel Laureates discoveries makes theoretically possible.

"It's really impossible to say. We will see clinical trials in the not too distant future, but it's impossible to say if and when it may benefit patients directly through cell transplantation," he said.

John B. Gurdon was born in 1933 in Dippenhall, UK. After receiving his Doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1960 he was made a postdoctoral fellow at theCalifornia Institute of Technology.

In 1972 he joined Cambridge University, UK, and has served as Professor of Cell Biology and Master of Magdalene College. Gurdon is currently at the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge.

Shinya Yamanaka was born in Osaka, Japan in 1962. After obtaining his MD in 1987 at Kobe University, he trained as an orthopaedic surgeon before switching to basic research.

Yamanaka received his PhD at Osaka University in 1993, after which he worked at the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco and Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan. Yamanaka is currently Professor at Kyoto University and also affiliated with the Gladstone Institute.

According to the Nobel Assembly of the Karolinska Institute, these groundbreaking discoveries have completely changed scientists' view of the development and cellular specialisation.

"We now understand that the mature cell does not have to be confined forever to its specialised state. Textbooks have been rewritten and new research fields have been established. By reprogramming human cells, scientists have created new opportunities to study diseases and develop methods for diagnosis and therapy," the committee wrote in the statement.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicinehe is awarded by the Nobel Assembly, consisting of 50 professors at the Karolinska Institute. Its Nobel Committee evaluates the nominations.

Be sure to follow The Local's Nobel Prize live blog here for more information and background on the prizes.

David Landes

Follow David Landes on Twitter

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

14:56 October 8, 2012 by Rishonim
Congrats to the winners. In all sincerity, am praying that this year winners include one person from a Muslim nation.
16:44 October 8, 2012 by entry
@14:56 October 8, 2012 by Rishonim "In all sincerity, am praying that this year winners include one person from a Muslim nation."

Why?

What difference does it make where the winners are from?
16:46 October 8, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ #1

Sima Samar, a Muslim woman, is a co-recipient of the Right Livelihood Award this year. The award is sometimes called the alternative Nobel Prize, it is similar to the Nobel Peace Prize but a lot more thought goes into the selection of winners than the Nobel Peace Prize, which is often little more than a popularity contest these days.

As post #2 implies, I would like to see each prize go to the most deserving recipient(s), regardless of race or religion.
07:06 October 9, 2012 by Coaxen
@Rishonim: And I am glad your praying won't accomplish anything. Praying to get things done is one of the worst ways of achieving anything.

I sincerely hope few Muslims get the prize SOLELY because their success would serve your backward logic that religion somehow helps scientific progress.
13:24 October 10, 2012 by Rishonim
@entry, Why?

What difference does it make where the winners are from? Of course it matters where the winners are from. Otherwise how do you attribute the mention of the name and the country they originate from. it also demonstrate that in certain regions of the world they would rather invest money in oppressing and butchering their people rather than in education.

@Coaxen,Your hypocrisy is contradictory and stupid as you cannot allude that Hoping for something not to happen will somehow change the course of things to come.
Today's headlines
Swimrun
Record win at Sweden's tough island race
Photo: Jakob Edholm/ÖTILLÖ14

Record win at Sweden's tough island race

Two Swedes crushed last year's course record at the Swimrun world championship in Stockholm's archipelago on Monday. READ  

Sweden reveals Academy Award submission
Swedish director Ruben Östlund on set. Photo. TT

Sweden reveals Academy Award submission

The movie set to represent Sweden at the 2015 Academy Awards was revealed on Monday, a film that has already won awards abroad. READ  

Amphetamines
Hidden forest drug stash leads to prosecution

Hidden forest drug stash leads to prosecution

A 53-year-old man has been prosecuted after police in western Sweden made one of their largest drug seizures in the area. READ  

Man shot dead in hunting accident
Photo: Hunter Desportes/Flickr

Man shot dead in hunting accident

UPDATED: Police in northern Sweden say a man was killed on Monday morning after what they described as a "hunting accident". READ  

Pirate Bay Swede's trial set for final stage

Pirate Bay Swede's trial set for final stage

The mother of Swedish Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg has told The Local about her son's "suffering" in jail ahead of the final stages of his trial. READ  

Suspected Ebola case ruled out in Sweden
Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Suspected Ebola case ruled out in Sweden

UPDATED: Officials at a Stockholm hospital reported that they had found a suspected case of the Ebola virus on Sunday night. But the case was dismissed on Monday. READ  

Murderer on the loose after breakout

Murderer on the loose after breakout

A 34-year-old man who killed a child is on the run after he broke out of a psychiatric ward in central Sweden. READ  

Skåne floods
Huge clear up underway after Skåne floods
A Malmö bus under water. Photo: Stig Åke Jönsson/TT

Huge clear up underway after Skåne floods

Flood waters subsided in the southern Sweden region of Skåne on Monday, after flash flooding saw chaos on roads and trains at the weekend. READ  

Elections 2014
Sweden's Alliance reveals full manifesto
Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Alliance reveals full manifesto

UPDATED: Leaders of the Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats have announced their complete list of election promises in Stockholm's Nacka. READ  

Zlatan scores hat trick in PSG thrashing
Photo: AP

Zlatan scores hat trick in PSG thrashing

Champions Paris Saint-Germain thumped Saint-Etienne 5-0 as Bordeaux saw their 100 percent record at the start of the Ligue 1 season ended on Sunday with a 1-1 draw against Bastia. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Tech
Sweden's highest peak to lose title next year
Politics
How immigration became a key election issue
Society
Brit's life in Sweden becomes BBC radio show
Gallery
People-watching August 27
Gallery
Top ten false friends in Swedish
Blog updates

25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »

 

25 August

The Dollar Store (Blogweiser) »

"A dollar store in Sweden. Blog post: http://t.co/tNuuvcP1q0 #USD #greenbacks #sweden #sverige pic.twitter.com/RHFAYf7U1k — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) August 23, 2014 There’s a chain here in Sweden called The DollarStore. This name always stood out to me in a country where they don’t use dollars. I went there for the first time this weekend. They actually accepted greenbacks..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Roma advocate scoops Wallenberg prize
Society
Meet the man who made a Swedish store recall its high heels for kids
Business & Money
'How I came to run my own business in Sweden'
Politics
Expert explains why Sweden's election oozes uncertainty
National
City plays Schindler's List theme at Nazi rally
Society
For Stockholm Fashion Week, here's the A-Z of Swedish fashion
National
'Amnesiac' man avoids deportation for ten years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Business & Money
Swedish city all set for six-hour workday trial
Business & Money
Five golden rules for the Swedish job hunt
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Gallery
People-watching August 22-24
National
Armed royal guards caught (very) drunk on the job
National
Sweden orders textbook on Roma discrimination
Gallery
Violent anti-Nazi demonstrations in Malmö
Society
A closer look at Sweden's five official minority languages
Gallery
See the destruction from the southern Sweden floods
Politics
'Sweden Democrats hold the key to elections'
Society
Swedes celebrate first day of smelly fish season
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

747
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se