Monday, October 08, 2007

Noble Prize in Medicine 2007

The Noble Foundation has announced this year's recipients of the Noble Prize in Medicine- Mario R. Capecchi, Martin J. Evans and Oliver Smithies. They received the award for their discoveries of "principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells". Here is an excerpt from the press release (and the NY Times has the story here):

They were honored for a technique called gene targeting, which lets scientists inactivate or modify particular genes in mice. That in turn lets them study how those genes affect health and disease.

To use this technique, researchers introduce a genetic change into mouse embryonic stem cells. These cells are then injected into mouse embryos. The mice born from these embryos are bred with others, to produce offspring with altered genes.

The first mice with genes manipulated in this way were announced in 1989. More than 10,000 different genes in mice have been studied with the technique, the Nobel committee said. That's about half the genes the rodents have.

''Gene targeting has pervaded all fields of biomedicine. Its impact on the understanding of gene function and its benefits to mankind will continue to increase over many years to come,'' the award citation said.

The Noble Foundation also has an informative video detailing the research of last year's winners (who discovered RNA interference) here.