US trio awarded for body clock dis­cov­er­ies

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - WORLD NEWS -

Three Amer­i­cans have won the Nobel Prize in Phys­i­ol­ogy or Medicine for their dis­cov­er­ies about the body’s bi­o­log­i­cal clock.

Jef­frey C Hall, Michael Ros­bash and Michael W Young won the nine mil­lion kro­nor (£820,000) prize for their work on find­ing ge­netic mech­a­nisms be­hind cir­ca­dian rhythms, which adapt the work­ings of the body to dif­fer­ent phases of the day, in­flu­enc­ing sleep, be­hav­iour, hormone lev­els, body tem­per­a­ture and me­tab­o­lism. They “were able to peek in­side our bi­o­log­i­cal clock and elu­ci­date its in­ner work­ings”, the Nobel ci­ta­tion said.

“Cir­ca­dian dys­func­tion has been linked to sleep dis­or­ders, as well as de­pres­sion, bipo­lar dis­or­der, cog­ni­tive func­tion, mem­ory for­ma­tion and some neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­eases,” ac­cord­ing to a Nobel back­ground re­port.

Michael Hast­ings, a sci­en­tist at the UK’s Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil, said the dis­cov­er­ies had opened up a whole new field of study for bi­ol­ogy and medicine.

He said: “Un­til then, the body clock was viewed as a sort of black box. We knew noth­ing about its op­er­a­tion. But what they did was get the genes that made the body clock, and once you’ve got the genes, you can take the field wher­ever you want to. It’s a field that has ex­ploded mas­sively, pro­pelled by the dis­cov­er­ies by these guys.”

Michael Ros­bash

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