Medicine Nobel to be announced today
STOCKHOLM TWO scientists who unlocked some of the mysteries linked to obesity or a professor who figured out how to make stem cells without human embryos could be candidates for the medicine award when the first of the 2011 Nobel Prizes are announced on Monday.
The prize committees don’t give any clues they even keep nominations secret for 50 years but winners usually have won many other awards and distinctions before they are considered for a Nobel.
Canadian-born Douglas Coleman and American Jeffrey Friedman have won several prizes for their discovery of lepton, a hormone that regulates food intake and body weight, and could be in the running for the coveted prize worth 10 million kronor ($1.5 million).
Last year, Coleman, of the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Friedman, of Rockefeller University in New York, received the Lasker Award, often seen as a precursor to the Nobel, for having shown that obesity is frequently linked to metabolic disruptions, or the lack of lepton, rather than being a self-induced problem.
Japanese Shinya Yamanaka, another potential Nobel candidate, offered the world of regenerative medicine a breakthrough with experiments showing that stem cells can be made from ordinary skin cells. The discovery led to a leap in stem cell research, reducing the need for using human embryos.
Yamanaka won the Lasker Award in 2009 and this year shared Israel’s Wolf Prize.
One out of three Wolf awardwinners in chemistry, physics and medicine have also won a Nobel Prize.
Yamanaka, of Kyoto University in Japan and the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, could share the prize with British cloning pioneer John Gurdon or Canadian stem cell researcher James Till. Till discovered blood stem sells, which have saved the life of many thousands of leukemia patients.
“Gurdon’s cloning technique and Yamanaka’s stem cells are highly interesting in the field of basic science,” wrote science reporter Karin Bojs of Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, who has stood out as a leading Nobel guesser over the years. “But so far, not a single sick person has been cured with these discoveries.
It is therefore possible that Yamanaka and Gurdon get to share the prize with Canadian James Till.”