Two scientists of different generations have received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for Revolutionary Discovery that body cells can be reprogrammed in completely different genres, scientific works that reflect the underlying mechanism of cloning and can offer an alternative to use of embryonic stem cells.
The work of the British researcher John Gurdon and the Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka - who was born in the year when Gurdon made his discovery - support the hope for the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's and Diabetes by means of 'tailor made' tissue culture for transplantation. The results have also stimulated a new generation of laboratory studies in other diseases, including Schizophrenia.
In essence, Gurdon, 83, and Yamanaka, 54, have shown how to produce cells equivalent to embryonic stem cells by overcoming the ethical issues that these latest cells, so versatile they pose, a promise to be fulfilled that scientists are now reworking. Once created, these "tabula rasa" cells can be 'switchate' progressively towards development in other types of cells. Skin cells e.g. they can be transformed into brain cells. Just last week, scientists reported skin cells of mice transformed into related oocytes, produced newborn mice, representing a possible step toward new fertility treatments.