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Stem cell discoveries land Nobel gong for Brit, Japanese boffins

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Blighty's Sir John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan have won this year's Nobel Prize for medicine or physiology for reprogramming adult cells.

The boffins bagged the award and the £744,00 winnings for their research into nuclear rejigging, where adult cells are told to form early stem cells that can then be used to form any kind of tissue.

The prize committee in Stockholm announced that the pair had won the prize for "the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent".

Sir John's part in the breakthrough was to discover, way back in 1962, that the DNA in the nucleus of an adult frog cell held all the information necessary to develop into any kind of cell. Over forty years later Yamanaka discovered how to get the mature cells in mice to go back to their earlier state.

Getting this kind of stem cell creation to work would mean that scientists would no longer have to get stem cells from early embryos, a process that's the subject of some controversy.

Yamanaka is a professor at Kyoto University in Japan. Sir John works at the Gurdon Institute at Cambridge University, which tweeted its delight for its Nobel-prize winning boffin.

"What a great day for us all here. Even John, too modest, too polite to make a fuss, has a spring in his step today! I'm proud to be here…" the tweet said. ®

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