Human beings, men and women alike, in all ages have dreamed of being able to remain strong, healthy and young and beautiful in spite of the passing of the years; and those who had the means spent huge sums to get closer to this dream.
After millennia, science took a leap forward, and the two researchers who carried the work forward earned the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.
It is now history: in 1962 the British John B. Gurdon, now 79, had discovered that an adult cell "can lose its identity" and be reprogrammed to specialize in an entirely different type of cell. And the Japanese Shinya Yamanaka, born in the year of that epochal discovery by Gurdon, over 40 years later has developed a technique that allows the reprogramming of adult cells, already differentiated.
When an egg is fertilized and the first cells start dividing, they are all the same, with a low, elementary frequency. These cells are called "totipotent" because they have, in their "primitive" state, the potential to differentiate and later become blood, skin, bone, eye, liver and so on.
Gurdon's intuition was brilliant: it is enough to be able to go back in some way to the first moments of life to be able to make choices again. For example to reconstruct the functionality of an organ compromised by illness or injury or other. So for years he has tried to obtain "young", "primordial" tissue, and that of the embryos and the umbilical cord was par excellence. With the obvious ethical problems.
Today, however, thanks to the technique developed by Yamanaka, it is known that the adult cell can be reprogrammed to become an embryonic cell, thus opening up an infinite series of uses. Really many uses and all interesting. For example in medicine, in the field of regenerative medicine, given that Yamanaka's discovery will make it possible to transform a patient's cells into stem cells and subsequently into the type of tissue useful for correcting and treating many diseases.
The implications in aesthetic medicine and cosmetics are also interesting. In fact, a new frontier is research on plant stem cells , which are also endowed with exceptional vitality and ductility.
A Nobel Prize awarded, and we are already on the threshold of a new era, as regards health but also beauty and, indeed, the dream of "eternal beauty".