STOCKHOLM – The creation of induced pluripotent stem cells by Shinya Yamanaka was recommended for a Nobel Prize unusually quickly after his first major breakthrough was announced in 2006, according to a senior official in the selection committee.
The creation of iPS cells, which can develop into any kind of tissue, has significant potential in the development of regenerative medicine.
Recommendations “came from (around the) world,” said Goran Hansson, secretary general of the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, the medical university that selects the winner of the Nobel in physiology or medicine.
Yamanaka, a professor at Kyoto University, won this year’s Nobel in physiology or medicine for the creation of iPS cells. The award ceremony is scheduled for Monday in Stockholm.
He announced iPS cell creation from mouse cells in August 2006 and from human cells in November 2007.
Every September, the Nobel Assembly asks past prize winners and researchers around the world to recommend candidates and receives their replies by the end of January the following year, Hansson said in an interview.
The assembly examines all of the recommendations and, with support and advice from outside experts, narrows the list down to several candidates. The finalists are screened by 50 members of the assembly and the winner is decided by a vote in October, he said.
More specific details of the selection process are kept top secret.
Yamanaka won the Nobel six years after his first breakthrough. This was a “very short time,” Hansson said, noting that the selection process usually takes a long time because the assembly has to examine various factors.
Man suing Nobel assembly over misplaced credit remains a mystery
The assembly that awards the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine said Friday it had never heard of a stem cell researcher who is suing it for allegedly crediting his work to this year’s winners.
“We have not yet received any such lawsuit and have not, therefore, been able to assess it in detail. The name of the plaintiff has never been put forward to us previously,” the Nobel Assembly said in a statement.
Rongxiang Xu, a Los Angeles-based researcher who describes himself as the founder of “human body regenerative restoration science,” claims he made a key discovery credited to the Nobel winners a decade before they did.