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

Cardinal Martini Slammed Catholic Church For Being Outdated

Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini has described the Roman Catholic Church as being “200 years behind” the times. The cardinal died on Friday, aged 85.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has published his last interview, recorded in August, in which he said: “The Church is tired… our prayer rooms are empty.”

Thousands of people have been filing past his coffin at Milan’s cathedral, where he was archbishop for more than 20 years. The cardinal, who had retired from the post in 2002, suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, is to be buried on Monday.

Cardinal Martini gave his last interview to a fellow Jesuit priest, Georg Sporschill, and to a journalist at the beginning of August when he knew his death was approaching. Catholics lacked confidence in the Church, he said in the interview. “Our culture has grown old, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our religious rites and the vestments we wear are pompous.”


Unless the Church adopted a more generous attitude towards divorced persons, it will lose the allegiance of future generations, the cardinal added. The question, he said, is not whether divorced couples can receive holy communion, but how the Church can help complex family situations. And the advice he leaves behind to conquer the tiredness of the Church was a “radical transformation, beginning with the Pope and his bishops”.

“The child sex scandals oblige us to undertake a journey of transformation,” Cardinal Martini says, referring to the child sex abuse that has rocked the Catholic Church in the past few years. He was not afraid, our correspondent adds, to speak his mind on matters that the Vatican sometimes considered taboo, including the use of condoms to fight AIDS and the role of women in the Church.

Do you agree with Cardinal Carlo Martini’s opinion about the Roman Catholic church being outdated already? Tell us if you disagree with his views!

Source: BBC News

Image: Scrape TV