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Japan Nobel-winning scientist Yamanaka to get 30 bil. yen: official

TOKYO -- Japan's Nobel prize-winning Shinya Yamanaka will likely get up to 30 billion yen (US$383 million) for his stem cell research over the next decade, an official said Wednesday.

The Japanese science and technology ministry eyes at least 2.7 billion yen as a fresh budget to subsidize Yamanaka for the next fiscal year alone, a ministry official said.

“The government plans to continue this program for the following 10 years, while Dr. Yamanaka will also receive other subsidies as well,” he said, adding that the budget was already planned before he won the Nobel Prize.

The total subsidies likely to be given to the scientist are estimated to be up to 30 billion yen over the decade.

Yamanaka and Britain's John Gurdon were jointly honored for discovering that adult cells can be transformed back to an infant state called stem cells, the key ingredient in the vision of regenerative medicine.

The Japanese was singled out for his work in the field of so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

So-called “nuclear reprogramming” uses a fully developed adult cell to create an iPS cell — a kind of blank slate that has the potential to become any other kind of cell in the body.

Scientists say in this way they can generate materials either to experiment on, or to use within the body — perhaps as a means of repairing or even replacing damaged or diseased organs.

Yamanaka has called for the government to support his research financially, running in a charity marathon to raise funds last year.

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