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October 08, 2012

CiRA Director Shinya Yamanaka Wins the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

October 8, 2012, Kyoto, Japan - Shinya Yamanaka, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University, has won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent. Cowinner is Sir John B. Gurdon, Distinguished Group Leader in the Wellcome Trust/CRUK Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge. 

Dr. Yamanaka, who also serves as a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, and his research team generated iPS cells by introducing four genes - Oct3/4, Klf4, Sox2 and c-Myc - into somatic cells for the first time in the world. iPS cells, like embryonic stem cells, are capable of growing robustly and differentiating into any type of cells in the human body. He announced the generation of mouse iPS cells in 2006 and human iPS cells in 2007.

The discovery of iPS cells is a breakthrough in the research field of nuclear reprogramming, which turns back the clock of differentiated cells into an undifferentiated state. This technology has opened up possible applications in understanding pathology, drug discovery and development, and cell therapies.

"Winning the prize would be not only a tremendous honor for me, but also a powerful encouragement for myself, my colleagues, and all the scientists working with iPS cells to continue research activities," Dr. Yamanaka said. "I will work harder with my colleagues to develop effective drugs and new therapy for intractable diseases using patient-derived iPS cells."

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