Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Nobel Prize Medicine winners announced

Nobel Prize awards to be announced starting October 2 Nobel Prize awards to be announced starting October 2
Derrick Tucker | 03 October, 2017, 08:46

The trio unravelled the molecular mechanism that controls our internal body clocks. "It had been recognized for some time that animals and plants not only respond to changes in light as we move from day to night with the Earth's rotation, but that they anticipate such changes".

The week of the Nobel Prize in 2017 has started with the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology this 2 October. During the 18th century, the astronomer Jean Jacques d'Ortous de Mairan studied mimosa plants, and found that the leaves opened towards the sun during daytime and closed at dusk.

The research conducted on fruit flies isolated the "period" gene that controls the normal daily biological rhythm.

Young, 68, said genes that control our body clock were revealed "just like puzzle pieces".

"I am very pleased for the fruit fly", said Michael Rosbash, a professor at Brandeis University in the eastern state of MA.

Additionally, they were able to identify other protein components of this complex, biological machinery and expose the mechanism governing the self-sustaining clockwork inside the cell.

This discovery was made in 1990, and further research over the years since has shown that biological clocks function in the same way across many other lifeforms, including humans. Hall and Rosbash then discovered aprotein called PER that is encoded by the period gene and fluctuates over a 24-hour cycle; PER levels build up at night and drop during the day. I hadn't even had a thought about this.

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Since then, the three scientists have discovered several other genes necessary for maintaining circadian cycles, and similar processes have been found in many other organisms, including humans.

Three US scientists Jeffery Hall, Michael Young and Michael Rosbash won the 2017 Nobel prize for medicine.

In 1984, Hall and Rosbach at Brandeis University in Boston and Young at Rockefeller University in NY isolated the "period" gene, the first such gene found for controlling circadian rhythms.

For instance, jet lag is a outcome of a temporary mismatch between the inner clock and the environment that occurs when people travel across several time zones.

Foster, who has long worked in the area of circadian rhythms, believes this research could provide the platform to help those with degenerative diseases as well as blindness and schizophrenia. Our inner clock is able to adapt our physiology to different phases of the day and regulates functions such as behaviour, hormone levels, metabolism and sleep.

The Nobel prize committee said their findings had "vast implications for our health and wellbeing".

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