Medicine

Medicine Nobel prize awarded for body clock discovery

Medicine Nobel prize awarded for body clock discovery

For their discoveries of the way circadian rhythm works, three US scientists have been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

When there is a mismatch between this internal "clock" and the external surroundings, it can affect the organism's wellbeing - for example, in humans, when we experience jet lag.

Our biological clocks help regulate a large proportion of our genes, as well as critical functions like behaviour, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature and metabolism.

"The seminal discoveries by Hall, Rosbash and Young have revealed a crucial physiological mechanism explaining circadian adaptation, with important implications for human health and disease", the Nobel Prize organizers said in a statement.

Working with fruit flies, the scientists isolated a gene that is responsible for a protein that accumulates in the night but is degraded in the day. In 1984, Hall, Rosbash and Young, this year's medicine laureates, found a protein called PER that was encoded by the period gene.

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The laureates are Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michal Young, who also receive a gold Nobel medal.

When the Nobel committee told Rosbach that he won the prize, he reportedly said: "You are kidding me". The winners will share a prize of 9 million Swedish kronor, which is around $1.1 million. This gene, called period, encodes a protein called PER, whose amounts peak at night and decline during the day.

The Nobel Prize for Physics, Chemistry, and Literature will be announced from Tuesday to Thursday while the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 will be announced on Friday October 6. Circadian rhythms evolved in response to Earth's rotation around the Sun, and how that impacted the availability of resources through 24-hour cycles.

Three U.S. scientists received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Oct. 2 for their study of fruit flies and discoveries regarding circadian rhythms. The same gene was found to be at work in other organisms too, including humans. According to a report in The Guardian, the discovery of different genes and proteins by the team has aided the explanation of the workings of the self-regulating mechanism as well as the way light can synchronise the clock.


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