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Social Sciences
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English (U.S.)
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Why Was The 2012 Nobel Prize Awarded for Stem Cell Research? (Essay Sample)

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Why Was The 2012 Nobel Prize Awarded for Stem Cell Research?

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Why Was The 2012 Nobel Prize Awarded for Stem Cell Research? Author's Name: Institutional Affiliation: Why Was The 2012 Nobel Prize Awarded For Stem Cell Research? On 8th October 2012, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the year jointly to two Japanese scientists, John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka. According to the report that this award was presented based upon, the committee explained that they had decided to award this award to these two scientists for their ground breaking research into stem cells where they successfully showed that mature cells could be successfully reprogrammed to becoming pluripotent (The Nobel Assembly, 2012). What this implies is that these two scientists discovered that mature stem cells could be reprogrammed successfully into immature cells that were capable of developing into any body part. Therefore, the scientists helped shed more light into the evolution of organisms, prompting the committee to award them the prize. According to the scientists, it was a long journey towards the award. It all commenced in 1962 when John B. Gordon discovered that the specialization process of cells was reversible (Gurdon, 1962). In his classic experiment, Gordon successfully replaced the immature nucleus of a frog’s egg cell with a mature nucleus from an intestinal cell. Albeit he modified the cell successfully, it still developed into a normal tadpole, since the DNA of the cell retained all the information necessary in the development of all the cells of a tadpole. This ground breaking discovery set the pace for consecutive studies into the DNA and stem cells with few new noteworthy discoveries in the precedent years (Gurdon, 1962). It was not until 2006, 40 years later, that Shinya Yamanaka made a new discovery into stem cells. In his experiments, he was able to successfully reprogram mature mice cells into immature stem cells (Yamanaka, 2006). The report he published after this discovery stated that surprisingly, to him as well, he was able to reprogram mature cells got from mice into immature stem cells that were capable of developing into any body organ that they were attached to. These pluripotent stem cells could then be used in the study of diseases and the evolution of organisms (Yamanaka, 2006). The study of diseases was redefined since then since scientists were now able to replicate whatsoever body conditions through the use of pluripotent stem cells, thus the reaching of a new level in epidemiological studies. Both of these scientists challenged various dogmas that had been earlier on hypothesized. Though their research and findings were met with skepticism, they set new landmarks in cytological studies with the most prominent one being by Gordon who replaced an immature egg cell nucleus from a frog with that of a mature and specialized intestinal cell nucleus from a tadpole. The results were replicated by multiple other experiments carried out by scientists on globally, with every one of the egg cells developing into a fully functional clone adult frog (The Nobel Assembly, 2012). Yamanaka on the other hand heavily relied on Martin Evans’ (Nobel Prize 2007) research into embryonal pluripotent stem cells isolated from mice and cultured in the lab. He endeavored to find out why these cells stayed immature and never underwent specialization. He then expanded his scope of studies by trying to find out whether the genes that kept them pluripotent could cause a similar effect in mature and specialized cells (The Nobel Assembly, 2012). The committee was convinced beyond any doubt of the deserving of these two sc...
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