Nobel Prize Awarded For Stem Cell Discoveries

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 8 2012 9:15 AM

And the Nobel Prize For Medicine Goes to ...

153652185
Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka arrives for a press conference after winning the Nobel Medicine Prize on Monday

Photo by Jiji Press/AFP/GettyImages.

British scientist John Gurdon and Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine on Monday for experiments separated by nearly half a century that, in the words of the the selection committee, "revolutionaized our understanding of how cells and organisms develop."

The Associated Press with the details:

"In 1962, Gurdon wowed the world of biology by cloning a frog via a clever technique. He transplanted the genetic material from an intestinal cell of one frog into the fertilized egg cell from another. The egg developed into a tadpole, proving that all of the genetic instructions needed to turn an embryo into an adult exist even in so-called adult cells of the body — the specialized cells that make up skin, muscle, nerves and other tissues.
"In 2006 and 2007, Yamanaka extended that insight by turning back time on individual cells from both mice and humans. By sprinkling four genes on ordinary skin cells, Yamanaka discovered a virtual fountain of youth for cells: Any type of cell, he found, could be reverted to a young, embryonic state. These “induced” embryonic cells behave much like the ethically contentious stem cells gleaned from human embryos. They can be grown into many other types of tissues but without having to destroy any embryos."
Advertisement

You can read the official Nobel announcement here. As Slate contributors Darshak Sanghavi explained last week while predicting that Yamanaka would win the prize, his discovery "paves the way for scientists to create personalized stem cells from anyone and then program them to form any type of cell in the body." John Travis likewise tagged the Japanese researcher as the odds-on favorite to win this year's prize.* You can check out the rest of Slate's Nobel prize predictions here.

*Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly credited Slate contributor Vaughan Bell for calling a Yamanaka win ahead of time. Bell, however, predicted the prize would go to a group associated with optogenetics.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 8:46 AM The Vintage eBay Find I Wore to My Sentencing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.