Professor Ian Chambers (currently of the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, The University of Edinburgh, UK) who isolated the mouse Nanog gene said: "Nanog seems to be a master gene that makes embryonic stem cells grow in the laboratory. In effect this makes stem cells immortal. Being Scottish, I therefore chose the name after the Tír na nÓg legend."
In Irish mythology and folklore, Tír na nÓg ([tʲiːɾˠ n̪ˠə ˈn̪ˠoːɡ]; "Land of the Young") or Tír na hÓige ("Land of Youth") is one of the names for the Otherworld, or perhaps for a part of it. It is depicted as a paradise and supernatural realm of everlasting youth, beauty, health, abundance and joy.
Tír na nÓg is best known from the tale of Oisín and Niamh.In the tale, Oisín (a human hero) and Niamh (a woman of the Otherworld) fall in love. She brings him to Tír na nÓg on a magical horse that can travel over water. After spending what seems to be three years there, Oisín becomes homesick and wants to return to Ireland. Niamh reluctantly lets him return on the magical horse, but warns him never to touch the ground. When he returns, he finds that 300 years have passed in Ireland. Oisín falls from the horse. He instantly becomes elderly, as the years catch up with him, and he quickly dies of old age.
"A leannan sidhe," a beautiful fairy sweetheart, "can lure you against your will into Tir-na-nOg," wrote Patrick Harpur