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Nobel prize for medicine: Stem cells

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Stem cells can develop into many different kinds of cells as living things grow & promise new ways to cure disease. 

Photo shows how stem cells differentiate to form the cells of different organs in the body such as the heart and brain (Source: Wikipedia)

The science book The Epigenetics Revolution (2011) explains the Nobel Prize-winning stem cells discoveries in greater detail. 

Click button to listen to Nobel Prize for Stem Cell Research download

Stem cell pioneers win Nobel for medicine

By Pia Ohlin (AFP)

STOCKHOLM — Shinya Yamanaka of Japan and John Gurdon of Britain won the Nobel Prize for work in cell programming, a frontier that has nourished dreams of replacement tissue for people crippled by disease.

Their findings have revolutionised our understanding of how cells and organisms develop .... By reprogramming human cells, scientists have created new opportunities to study diseases and develop methods for diagnosis and therapy" [the Nobel jury declared on Monday]...

Stem cells are precursor cells which differentiate into the various organs of the body.

They have stirred huge excitement, with hopes that they can be coaxed into growing into replacement tissue for victims of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other diseases...

In 1962, he discovered that the DNA code in the nucleus of an adult frog cell held all the information to develop into every kind of cell. This meant that an adult cell could in essence be reprogrammed. His landmark discovery was initially met with scepticism, as the journey from immature to specialised cell was previously deemed irreversible.

[...He later told reporters in London his groundbreaking work "was essentially to show that all the different cells of the body have the same genes. "The work that I did was to test that proposition ... The outcome was that they do," he said.]

"It is particularly pleasing to see how purely basic research, originally aimed at testing the genetic identity of different cell types in the body, has turned out to have clear human health prospects," he said

Based at Cambridge University, Gurdon is fond of recalling that his school tutor told him when he was 15 that it would be a "total waste of time" to pursue a career in science, and credits his mother with encouraging him to follow his passion...

More than four decades later, in 2006, Yamanaka, now 50, discovered how mature cells in mice could be turned back to their youthful state using a batch of reprogramming genes. The advantage of this would be to avert the need to use stem cells taken from early-stage embryos. These are hugely versatile but have stirred ethical controversy... 

Stem-cell research is still at a very early stage, and only a tiny number of human trials have taken place. In the field of so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, for which Yamanaka was singled out for the Nobel, work is still only in the lab...

...The laureates will receive their prizes at formal ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Stem cell pioneers win Nobel for medicine, By Pia Ohlin (AFP), link


Developmental Biology Vocabulary

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine -
awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine (See Wikipedia and List of Winners)

Sir John B. Gurdon
(UK) - shared Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Shinya Yamanaka "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent" (See Wikipedia)
Shinya Yamanaka
(Japan) - (See Wikipedia)

induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells - "In 2006, Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan was the first to disprove the previous notion that reversible cell differentiation of mammals was impossible. He reprogrammed a fully differentiated mouse cell into a pluripotent stem cell by introducing four genes, Oct-4, SOX2, KLF4, and Myc, into the mouse fibroblast through gene-carrying viruses. With this method, he and his coworkers created induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), the key component in this experiment. Scientists have been able to conduct experiments that show the ability of iPS cells to treat and even cure diseases. In this experiment, tests were run on mice with inherited sickle cell anemia.Skin cells were turned into cells containing genes that transformed the cells into iPS cells. These replaced the diseased sickled cells, curing the test mice. The reprogramming of the pluripotent stem cells in mice was successfully duplicated with human pluripotent stem cells within about a year of the experiment on the mice" (See Wikipedia and induced pluripotent stem cell therapy)

developmental biology -
the study of how living things (animals, plants, bacteris) grow and develop: "modern developmental biology studies the genetic control of cell growth, differentiation and formation of body ('morphogenesis) which is the process that gives rise to tissues, organs and anatomy" (See Wikipedia)

embryo - the form of a human or animal inside its mother before it is born as it develops and grows (See Wikipedia)
embryology - the study of the formation of the embryo inside the mother before birth (See Wikipedia)

develop (verb)
development (noun)
developmental (adjective)
how cells and organisms develop

cell - the smallest part of a living thing that can operate independently (See Wikipedia)
stem cell -
a cell at early stage of development that can develop into many different kinds of cells (See Wikipedia)
stem-cell research

totipotent stem cells - "stem cells can differentiate into embryonic and extraembryonic cell types. Such cells can construct a complete, viable organism. These cells are produced from the fusion of an egg and sperm cell. Cells produced by the first few divisions of the fertilized egg are also totipotent" (See Wikipedia)

pluripotent stem cells -
"the descendants of totipotent cells and can differentiate into nearly all cells" (See Wikipedia)

DNA -
the chemical substance in the cell nucleus which has information needed to make more cells and build living things (See Wikipedia)
gene
(noun) - one pattern of chemicals in DNA that carries information about about building cells that can be passed from parent to child (See Wikipedia)
genetics
 (adjective) - the study of genes in humans, animals and plants (See Wikipedia)

epigenetics - "the study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence" (See Wikipedia)

nucleus of a cell - the inside of a cell where the DNA is located
nucleus of an adult frog cell

reprogramming genes - changing the information in genes, so that cells develop and grow in a different way
cell programming
reprogramming human cells

tissue - the substance that animal and plant cells are made of เนื้อเยื้อ
replacement - someone or something that takes the place of another ผู้การทำหน้าที่แทน, การทำหน้าที่แทน
replacement tissue


organ, organ of the body -
a part of the body that does a certain job such as the heart, brain, liver, lungs, etc (See Wikipedia)

Alzheimer disease - a brain disease known for memory loss: "early symptoms are often mistakenly thought to be 'age-related' concerns, or manifestations of stress. In the early stages, the most common symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events. When AD is suspected, the diagnosis is usually confirmed with tests that evaluate behaviour and thinking abilities, often followed by a brain scan if available. As the disease advances, symptoms can include confusion, irritability and aggression, mood swings, trouble with language, and long-term memory loss. As the sufferer declines they often withdraw from family and society. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death"  (See Wikipedia)

Parkinson disease -
a brain disease with shaking of the body: "a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease result from the death of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the midbrain; the cause of this cell death is unknown. Early in the course of the disease, the most obvious symptoms are movement-related; these include shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait. Later, cognitive and behavioural problems may arise, with dementia commonly occurring in the advanced stages of the disease. Other symptoms include sensory, sleep and emotional problems. PD is more common in the elderly, with most cases occurring after the age of 50" (See Wikipedia)

pioneers - the first people or company to do something
stem cell pioneers
stem cell pioneers win Nobel for medicine

nourish - feed to help something grow
nourish dreams


cripple -
harm and destroy part of the body (so cannot function normally) (example: crippled by a car accident)
crippled by disease

Shinya Yamanaka of Japan and John Gurdon of Britain won the Nobel Prize for work in cell programming, a frontier that has nourished dreams of replacement tissue for people crippled by disease.

findings - the results,  conclusions or statements made after research, after looking at all the evidence

revolution - as large important change in something
revolutionised our understanding

opportunities - benefits or profit that it is possible to get; situations in which it is possible to do what you want or need to do

diagnosis - when a doctor makes a judgement about what disease a patient has
therapy - a treatment which helps someone feel better, grow stronger, etc., especially after an illness การบำบัดโรค
methods for diagnosis and therapy

jury - a group of people who have been chosen to listen to all the facts in a trial in a law court and to decide whether a person is guilty or not guilty, or whether a claim has been proved คณะลูกขุน
the Nobel jury declared

Their findings have revolutionised our understanding of how cells and organisms develop .... By reprogramming human cells, scientists have created new opportunities to study diseases and develop methods for diagnosis and therapy" [the Nobel jury declared on Monday]...X

precursor - existing before some other thing (and influencing development of that thing)
precursor cells

differentiate - 
to show or see a difference between two things
differentiate into the organs of the body


Stem cells are precursor cells which differentiate into the various organs of the body

stir -
cause something to happen
stir huge excitement

coax into -
make something do some activity
coaxed into
growing into replacement tissue

victims - people who are killed injured or harmed in some way from an accident, natural disaster, crime, etc.
victims
of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases

They have stirred huge excitement, with hopes that they can be coaxed into growing into replacement tissue for victims of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other diseases...

essence - the most important part of something, usually the part that gives it its general character แก่น
in essence
an adult cell could in essence be reprogrammed

landmark - a major event or achievement that marks an important state in a process and makes progress possible เหตุการณ์ที่เป็นการแสดงถึงความคืบหน้า
landmark - very important (signals a new stage in development)
landmark discovery

initially - at first; at the beginning ในเบื้องต้น ในระยะต้น
scepticism - not believing in things easily or quickly, questioning them
initially met with scepticism

immature cell
specialised cell

reversible -
can go in opposite direction (what has been done, can be undone)
irreversible

deemed
- considered เห็นว่า ถือว่า
deemed irreversible
previously
deemed irreversible

the journey from immature to specialised cell was previously deemed irreversible

In 1962, he discovered that the DNA code in the nucleus of an adult frog cell held all the information to develop into every kind of cell. This meant that an adult cell could in essence be reprogrammed. His landmark discovery was initially met with scepticism, as the journey from immature to specialised cell was previously deemed irreversible.

groundbreaking - being the first to do something; something new, important, and different
groundbreaking work

essentially - for the most part ที่สำคัญที่สุด
outcome - a result; the situation that exists at the end of an activity or event ผล

genetic - dealing with the genes and common characteristics that are passed from parent to child ทางพันธุกรรม
identity - who someone is
genetic identity

purely
- only อย่างเดียว
basic research
purely basic research

testing the genetic identity of different cell types in the body,

prospects - what might happen in the future, the possibility of success in the future ความเป็นไปได้
human health prospects

clear - easy to understand
have clear human health prospects

turned out -
in the end after many things happen (after long series of events)
turned out to have clear human health prospects

"...He later told reporters in London his groundbreaking work "was essentially to show that all the different cells of the body have the same genes. "The work that I did was to test that proposition ... The outcome was that they do," he said. "It is particularly pleasing to see how purely basic research, originally aimed at testing the genetic identity of different cell types in the body, has turned out to have clear human health prospects," he said.

fond - getting enjoyment and satisfaction from ที่ทรงโปรดปราน
recall -
remember something in the past ระลึก, ทำให้หวนคิดถึง, ทำให้ระลึกถึง, ทำให้นึกถึง
fond of recalling - enjoy remembering  

waste of time - การเสียเวลา
total waste of time

pursue - to try to achieve something ดำเนินตาม, พยายามเพื่อให้ได้มาซึ่ง to work at something or carry it out ทำให้ลุล่วง
career - the job or long series of related jobs that you do and plan to do for much of your life
pursue
a career in science

passion - a strong enthusiasm or interest ความชื่นชม หลงใหล
follow his passion - do the things you want to do; do the activities that you want to do

encourage - tell people they should do something (give them energy and excitement to do it) ปลุกใจ, ให้กำลังใจ, กระตุ้น
credits his mother with encouraging him to follow his passion

Based at Cambridge University, Gurdon is fond of recalling that his school tutor told him when he was 15 that it would be a "total waste of time" to pursue a career in science, and credits his mother with encouraging him to follow his passion...

decades - periods of ten years เป็นสิบๆปี
More than four decades later, in 2006

state - condition สภาพ
youthful state - being young

mature - fully grown เติบโตเต็มที่
immature - not fully grown  

discovered how mature cells in mice could be turned back to their youthful state

batch - a group of things considered similar in type พวก, ชุด, กลุ่ม
batch of reprogramming genes

advantage - a condition giving a greater chance of success ความได้เปรียบ
The advantage of this would be ...

early -
at the beginning or start of something เช้า
stage - a part of an activity or process or a period of development ระยะ, ช่วง, ตอน a particular point in time during a process or set of events จังหวะเวลา

early stage

early stage embryos

avert -
prevent; stop something from happening
avert
the need to use stem cells taken from early-stage embryos

ethical - morally acceptable, right action  ตามหลักจรรยา,  ตามหลักจริยธรรม
controversy - a strong disagreement, especially about a public policy or moral issue ความขัดแย้ง ประเด็นข้อขัดแย้ง
ethical controversy - a disagreement or argument about what is right and wrong to do

stir - cause
stir ethical controversy

versatile - able to be used in many different ways
hugely versatile but have stirred ethical controversy... 

More than four decades later, in 2006, Yamanaka, now 50, discovered how mature cells in mice could be turned back to their youthful state using a batch of reprogramming genes. The advantage of this would be to avert the need to use stem cells taken from early-stage embryos. These are hugely versatile but have stirred ethical controversy... 

trial - a test (to see if something works) (example: clinical trials testing new drugs to see if they work)
human trial - a test on humans
a tiny number of human trials have taken place

field - an area of study and research (example: the field of medicine)
so-called ... - people call it ... 
In the field of so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells

single out -
select one person from a group of many people
Yamanaka was singled out for the Nobel

laureate - a person who has won a prize
the laureates will receive their prizes at formal ceremonies

founder - a person who establishes an institution, business, or organization ผู้ก่อตั้ง
prize founder

anniversary - a date when you celebrate something that happened in a previous year that is important to you วันครบรอบ
anniversary of prize founder

December 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

Stem-cell research is still at a very early stage, and only a tiny number of human trials have taken place. In the field of so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, for which Yamanaka was singled out for the Nobel, work is still only in the lab... ...The laureates will receive their prizes at formal ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

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