x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Cell researchers Gurdon, Yamanaka win Nobel Prize in medicine

Briton and Japanese researchers discovered that mature, specialised cells of the body can be reprogrammed into blank slates that can become any kind of cell.

STOCKHOLM // British researcher John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan have won the Nobel Prize in medicine for the discovery that mature, specialised cells of the body can be reprogrammed into blank slates that can become any kind of cell.

The prize committee at Stockholm's Karonlinska institute said the discovery has "revolutionised our understanding of how cells and organisms develop".

"The discoveries of Gurdon and Yamanaka have shown that specialised cells can turn back the developmental clock under certain circumstances," the committee said. "These discoveries have also provided new tools for scientists around the world and led to remarkable progress in many areas of medicine."

The medicine award was the first Nobel Prize to be announced this year. The physics award will be announced tomorrow, followed by chemistry on Wednesday, literature on Thursday and the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

The economics prize, which was not among the original awards, but was established by the Swedish central bank in 1968, will be announced on October 15. All prizes will be handed out on December 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

Last year's medicine award to Canadian-born Ralph Steinman, American Bruce Beutler and French scientist Jules Hoffmann briefly created some confusion when it was announced that Steinman had died a few days earlier. Posthumous prizes are normally not allowed, but the award was left unchanged since the judges were not aware of Steinman's death when they selected him as a winner.