Lasker Awards go to stem cell, cancer pioneers; Genetic discovery may lead to new MS drugs;

Stem Cell Research

Stem cell pioneer John Gurdon of Cambridge University won one of the prestigious 2009 Lasker Awards alongside Shinya Yamanaka, the Japanese scientist who first transformed skin cells into stem cells that can later turn into various tissue types. These awards often presage the Nobel prize. Report

In both mice and humans, a layer of cells at the base of the skin contains stem cells that can develop into the specialized cells in the layers above. Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and the Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnologicas in Madrid have discovered two proteins that control when and how these stem cells switch to being skin cells. Release

Genetic research

Researchers at Mayo Clinic found two genes in mice associated with good central nervous system repair in multiple sclerosis, raising the prospect of new therapies for the disease. Release

The molecular diagnostics company VitaPath Genetics raised $6 million in its first round. Story

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press has published the Genetics of Complex Human Diseases: A Laboratory Manual. Release

The U.K.'s Lab21 has forged a pact with AstraZeneca to provide genetic testing for lung cancer patients. Report

Cancer Research

Scientists have discovered a stem cell that could cause some cases of prostate cancer. Report

The Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award has been awarded to three scientists who developed the cancer drug Gleevec. Story