The Royal National Academy of Medicine wants to honor research on aging by awarding two of the pioneers of this new field that promises to revolutionize something that until now was thought inevitable: the slow decline of the body until death.
In a ceremony that will take place this Thursday, September 22, the corporation chaired by the oncologist Eduardo Diaz Rubio will appoint honorary academician to Shinya YamanakaNobel laureate in Physiology and Medicine in 2012 (together with the British John Gurdon) for the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells, which can be reprogrammed to develop as part of any tissue in the body.
The Academy will also recognize the Albacete researcher with the medal of honor Juan Carlos Izpisuadirector of the Altos Labs Institute of Sciences in San Diego (United States), a private entity specializing in research to reverse aging.
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Among his achievements, Izpisúa has discovered a class of RNA that accumulates in the nucleus of the cells of people with progeria, a disease that causes premature aging of the body. Blocking this RNA has managed to reverse the symptoms of the disease in mice, prolonging their lives.
Izpisúa and Yamanaka’s careers have crossed paths on several occasions. The last one was this year, when the Spaniard managed to reverse the aging of middle-aged and elderly mice by partially restoring cells to more youthful states.
He did it precisely by using the so-called ‘Yamanaka factors’, four molecules (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and cMyc) discovered by the Japanese scientist that restore the epigenetic markers of DNA to their original patterns.
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These markers, which are added over time, are not part of the genome but they do influence and modify it. playing an essential role in the aging of the body and in the loss of functions associated with it.
The Royal Academy of Medicine has decided to award the medal of honor to Izpisúa -born in the town of Hellín in 1960- for his “scientific, academic and health work”, in addition to his “great and significant support for this Royal Academy”. On previous occasions, this award was given to relevant scientists such as Francisco Ayala (2016) and Francisco Martínez Mojica (2017).
As for Yamanaka, he will be awarded the position of honorary academic for his “relevant scientific merits”, as indicated in the minutes of the Governing Board of the Academy held on June 14.