CRF Blog

The 2012 Nobel prizes in science

by David De La Torre

In Good eggs, The Economist reports on this year’s Nobel Prize winners in science.

THIS year’s Nobel prize for medicine went to Sir John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka (both pictured above) for a crucial discovery in stem-cell science: how to make what are known as pluripotent stem cells from ordinary body cells. What the citation did not say was that this work also allows clones to be made from adult animals, potentially including people.

A stem cell is one that can differentiate into daughter cells specialised for particular functions, and all the cells in a body are thus derived from stem cells. That includes the stem cells themselves, which derive from “ur” stem cells found in embryos. These embryonic stem cells are the pluripotent ones, meaning they can turn into many (sometimes all) other sorts of cell. [more]