UK And Japan Scientists Win Nobel For Adult Stem Cell Breakthroughs

John Gurdon, 79, of the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, Britain and Shinya Yamanaka, 50, of Kyoto University in Japan, discovered ways to create tissue that would act like embryonic cells, without the need to collect the cells from embryos. They share the $1.2 million Nobel Prize for Medicine, for work Gurdon began 50 years ago and Yamanaka capped with a 2006 experiment that transformed the field of “regenerative medicine” – the search for ways to cure disease by growing healthy tissue.

All of the body starts as stem cells, before developing into tissue like skin, blood, nerves, muscle and bone. The big hope is that stem cells can grow to replace damaged tissue in cases from spinal cord injuries to Parkinson’s disease. Scientists once thought it was impossible to turn adult tissue back into stem cells. That meant new stem cells could only be created by taking them from embryos, which raised ethical objections that led to research bans in some countries.


As far back as 1962 Gurdon became the first scientist to clone an animal, making a healthy tadpole from the egg of a frog with DNA from another tadpole’s intestinal cell. That showed that developed cells carry the information to make every cell in the body – decades before other scientists made world headlines by cloning the first mammal from adult DNA, Dolly the sheep.

More than 40 years later, Yamanaka produced mouse stem cells from adult mouse skin cells by inserting a small number of genes. His breakthrough effectively showed that the development that takes place in adult tissue could be reversed, turning adult tissue back into cells that behave like embryos.

Stem cells created from adult tissue are known as “induced pluripotency stem cells”, or iPS cells. Because patients may one day be treated with stem cells from their own tissue, their bodies might be less likely to reject them.

Do you think these stem cell experiments are ethical? Or are they highly beneficial? Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic!

Source: Yahoo News

Image: Eideard

Skeleton Found By Archaeologists May Be Long-Lost King Richard III

Archaeologists searching for the grave of Richard III have said “strong circumstantial evidence” points to a skeleton being the lost king. The English king died at the battle of Bosworth in 1485.

A dig under a council car park in Leicester has found remains with spinal abnormalities and a “cleaved-in skull” that suggest it could be Richard III. The University of Leicester will now test the bones for DNA against descendants of Richard’s family. A university spokesperson said the evidence included signs of a peri-mortem (near-death) trauma to the skull and a barbed iron arrow head in the area of the spine. Richard is recorded by some sources as having been pulled from his horse and killed with a blow to the head.

The skeleton also showed severe scoliosis – a curvature of the spine. Although not as pronounced as Shakespeare’s portrayal of the king as a hunchback, the condition would have given the adult male the appearance of having one shoulder higher than the other.


As the defeated foe, Richard was given a low-key burial in the Franciscan friary of Greyfriars. This was demolished in the 1530s, but documents describing the burial site have survived. The excavation, which began on 25 August, has uncovered the remains of the cloisters and chapter house, as well as the church. The bones were lifted by archaeologists wearing forensic body suits in an effort to limit contamination by modern materials.

The tests are expected to take about 12 weeks to complete. If their identity is confirmed, Leicester Cathedral said it would work with the Royal Household, and with the Richard III Society, to ensure the remains were treated with dignity and respect and reburied with the appropriate rites and ceremonies of the church.

Do you think the bones these archaeologists dug up in Leicester really belonged to King Richard III? Share your thoughts and opinions with us!

Source: BBC News

Image: CBC News