The awarding body considered their research, which led to the discovery
of discovery that mature, differentiated cells can be reprogrammed to a
pluripotent stem cell state.
This represents a paradigm shift in
our understanding of cellular differentiation and of the plasticity of
the differentiated state, the Nobel institute writes in a press release
that accompanies the award.
Cellular differentiation appears as a unidirectional process,
where undifferentiated cells mature to various specialised cell fates,
such as neurons, muscle and skin cells.
The prevalent view during the first half of the 20th
century was that the mature cells were permanently locked into
the differentiated state, and unable to return
to a fully immature, pluripotent stem cell state, the
See detailed description of the research here
Sir John B. Gurdon
was born in 1933 in Dippenhall, UK. He received his Doctorate from the
University of Oxford in 1960 and was a postdoctoral fellow at
California Institute of Technology. He joined Cambridge University, UK,
in 1972 and has served as Professor of Cell Biology and Master of
Magdalene College. Gurdon is currently at the Gurdon Institute in
John B. Gurdon discovered in 1962 that the specialisation of cells is reversible. In a classic experiment, 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.
Shinya Yamanaka was
born in Osaka, Japan in 1962. He obtained his MD in 1987 at Kobe
University and 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.
Shinya 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.
Related report Stem cell experts win Nobel prize : BBC