Nobel Prize Stirs Controversy

Created: 2012-10-09 02:56 EST

Category: World > Europe

“The Nobel Assembly and the Karolinska Institute have today decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012 jointly to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent."

This year’s Nobel Prize is a controversial one and it is rewarded to scientist in the field of stem cell research.

John B. Gurdon discovered in the early sixties that he could take an egg cell on a frog and replace the immature cell nucleus with a mature frog intestinal cell nucleus.

The modified egg cell grew into a normal tadpole, and the DNA of the mature cell still contained all the information required to grow into all cells of the frog.

[Göran Hansson, Secretary Nobel Assembly]:
“John Gourdon made a remarkable discovery fifty years ago. That the nucleus of a mature cell contains all the information needed to build any information needed to build any cell in the body.”

Forty years later in 2006, Shinya Yamanaka discovered that one can reprogram mature stem cells in mice to become stem cells that can become any cell type in the body.

[Thomas Perlmann, Professor Karolinska Institute]:
“We think this an absolutely fantastic discovery and it has two important components. And one is and this is really important for us it’s importance for the basic understanding of how cells become specialist and help us to understand really basic biology and medicine.”

These stem cells appear to be the equivalent of embryonic stem cells.

Stem cell research had been a subject of controversy because to obtain embryonic cells, embryos must be destroyed.

Prof Yamanaka's method is able to obtain primitive cells without killing embryos.

The discussion of ethics regarding stem cell research and cloning continues to be controversial.

Several states in the U.S. have banned the research on stem cells and the EU also has restrictions.

NTD News, Stockholm, Sweden

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