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The year 2012 was a bright year for Japan as far as science is concerned. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Dr. John B. Gurdon of Cambridge University for their discovery that mature, specialized cells can be reprogrammed to become immature cells capable of developing into all cell types — each carrying out a specific task — that compose the body.

Dr. Yamanaka and his team succeeded in 2006 in creating pluripotent stem cells — immature cells that can develop into any type of cell the body needs — by introducing only four genes into mature cells from the skin of a mouse. In 2007, they created similar induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells with human skin cells.

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