Three scientists win 2017 Nobel Medicine Prize

Nobel 2017

Young shared the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize for isolating a gene that controls the human body's normal daily biological rhythm, according to the citation.

Focusing on the fruit fly, they discovered the molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythm, the inner biological clock that regulates nearly all life on the planet.

US geneticists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young during a lecture at Shaw College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong on September 25, 2013. Hall uncovered essential mechanisms of biological clocks and shed light on the foundations for sexual differentiation in the nervous system.

Male common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) sitting on a blade of grass.

Here's what Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young did. "I'm still a little overwhelmed". This is a very humbling award".

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. The prizes can be deserted, something that has already happened 49 times. "I haven't even had time to have a cup of coffee", he said.

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Young were jointly awarded the prize by The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet. Researchers have learned that body clocks are important to health in a variety of ways.

"Until then, the body clock was viewed as a sort of black box", said Michael Hastings, a scientist at the U.K. Medical Research Council.

"Until then, the body clock was viewed as a sort of black box", Hastings told the AP. "We knew nothing about its operation". Within a year, this group discovered another key part of the feedback loop: When PER and TIM get into the nucleus, they also curtail the activity of clock.

Carlos Ibanez, another assembly member, said their original research created a "field that has exploded massively". Their model still holds up, despite discoveries of additional circadian rhythm genes, and it applies to humans as well as fruit flies. Robash and Hall were able to fix the mutated flies and restore normalcy to their circadian rhythm in that 1984 paper. "The three of them. have formed the platform of our understanding of the molecular basis of circadian rhythms, not only in flies, but it's informed the work in mice and humans". From 1978, he has been on faculty at the Rockefeller University in NY. But he noted that a genetic mutation had been found in some people who have chronic trouble getting to sleep at night. It's why jet lag can be so unpleasant and also why a mismatch between our sleeping patterns and the body's biological clock can lead to increased risk of diseases.

Such tinkering with Mother Nature can have serious consequences ranging from impulsive behaviour to life-threatening conditions such as obesity and cancer, the experts say.

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