Friday, October 12, 2012

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

This year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was shared by John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka. Gurdon's work goes back fifty years to when he first cloned an adult frog by taking DNA from mature cells and transplanting them into frog eggs to produce new tadpoles. The key thing here was that the mature cell held all of the information to code for all of the cells in the body, that is, a liver cell has all of the information to make blood cells or neurons or whatever, and so could become the basis for a complete organism. Yamanaka's work brings this idea forward, and he developed ways to turn back the clock on mature cells, essentially tricking them into reverting to the same state as embryonic cells that can grow into all sorts of new cells (i.e. they are pluripotent). These are called stem cells, and are one of the most promising areas of medical research today. Towel made these LEGO vehicles based on frogs and tadpoles.

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