Three Americans win Nobel medicine prize for body rhythm work

Posted October 03, 2017

Circadian, or daily, rhythms are "just as fundamental as respiration", says Charalambos Kyriacou, a molecular geneticist at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

All life on Earth has evolved on a planet that spins on its axis once every 24 hours.

Secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine Professor Thomas Perlmann announced the 2017 Nobel Prize in this domain. In 1729, the French astronomer Jean Jacques d'Ortous de Mairan observed what happened to a mimosa plant when it was placed in constant darkness.

They proved that biological clocks function because of the same principles in cells of other multi-cellular organisms, including humans.

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BERLIN-Three scientists who made key discoveries on the workings of our internal clock have been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

The scientists were able to see inside our biological clock and explain its inner workings, the Nobel statement said. A decade later, Mr Young discovered another "clock gene". They experimented with fruit flies to find the gene that controls the daily biological rhythm.

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.

Young showed that when TIM bound to PER the two proteins were able to enter the cell nucleus, where they blocked period gene activity to close the inhibitory feedback loop - thus allowing the PER protein to prevent its own synthesis and regulate its own level in a continuous, cyclic rhythm.

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"It starts telling us what are the basic mechanisms for this variation", he added.

The three laureates pioneered efforts to elucidate molecular mechanisms that drive organisms' inner biological clocks. Dr Young operated separately, at Rockefeller University, in NY. 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.

The circadian rhythm is mostly endogenous: it is "performed" and regulated by chemical reactions that occur within the body's cells, using internal cues. "I hadn't even had a thought about this", he said.

"It shows that our brain and body require a good 24-hour rhythm to have optimum health", he said.

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If PER is more stable then the clock ticks more slowly, if it is less stable then it runs too fast. As per sources, The Nobel prize committee also said that their research had "vast implications for our health and wellbeing". These Circadian rhythms have influenced the behavior, body temperature, sleep, metabolism and hormone levels.