Nobel Prize Medicine winners announced

Nobel Prize awards to be announced starting October 2

A biological clock in the cells of plants, animals and humans anticipates these fluctuations to optimise behaviour and physiology.

"The paradigm-shifting discoveries by the laureates established key mechanisms for the biological clock", the Nobel Assembly said in its prize statement.

Hall and Rosbash, both then at Brandeis University in MA, and Young of Rockefeller University did research that found an elaborate internal clock of genes and the cellular functions that DNA controls working together in much the same way the gears and springs in an old-fashioned timepiece do, with interconnected functions controlling one another. Since 1978, he has been part of the faculty at Rockefeller University in New York City.

Michael Rosbash of Brandeis University, whose parents fled Nazi Germany and the son of a cantor, was one of three American scientists to win the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

The winners will share a prize of 9m Swedish kronor (£825,000), and each receive a medal engraved with their name. The pair highlighted how mutations in an unknown gene disrupted the circadian clock of flies, naming the gene "period".

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The next Nobels to be announced will be the Physics and Chemistry awards on Tuesday and Wednesday while the Literature award will be known on Thursday. A second clock gene, dubbed "timeless", encoded for a protein called TIM that binds to PER, and together they enter the cell nucleus.

In the fruit flies, a gene called period controlled the circadian rhythm, and when mutated, the insects lost the rhythms. Later, y identified more components of this internal clock, which also works on cells of or multicellular organisms, such as humans. Misalignments in this clock may result in medical conditions and disorders, as well as the temporary disorientation of jet lag that travelers experience when crisscrossing time zones.

Circadian rhythms help living organisms adapt their biological activities to the normal 24-hour cycle of light and darkness. Carlos Ibanez, another assembly member, said the research was important in understanding how humans adapt to shift work.

The trio won the prize for 'their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm'.

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