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LEUKEMIA, DNA WORK NETS LASKER AWARDS

Mayor Bloomberg wins a public service award.

NEW YORK - Five scientists have won prestigious research awards for developing a life-saving leukemia treatment and for advances in "reprogramming" DNA, which led to a new kind of stem cell.

The $250,000 Lasker Awards will be presented Oct. 2 in New York by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. In addition, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 67, will receive the Mary Woodward Lasker Public Service Award.

The clinical medical research award is shared by three scientists for work related to Gleevec, a drug that transformed chronic myelogenous leukemia from a fatal cancer into a manageable chronic condition.

The honorees are Brian Druker, 54, of the Oregon Health & Science University; Nicholas B. Lydon, 42, formerly of Novartis AG; and Charles L. Sawyers, 50, of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

The award for basic medical research is shared by John Gurdon, 76, of Cambridge University and Shinya Yamanaka, 47, of Kyoto University in Japan and the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco.

Their work is key to research into stem cells, which scientists hope will reveal secrets of some diseases and lead to new treatments for disorders like spinal cord injury and Parkinson's disease.

In 1997, other scientists extended Gurdon's work to mammals by cloning Dolly the sheep from the DNA of an adult.

Yamanaka's work showed a new way to make human stem cells, without the ethical quandary of growing eggs into embryos that are then destroyed. Many labs now use the new approach to make what scientists call "induced pluripotent stem cells."

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