Research on Biological Clock Wins 2017 Nobel Prize for Medicine

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nobel prize 2017

No one was expecting them to win. And they weren't expecting it either.

But they did.

Maybe that's why when the news reached the winners - American scientists, Jeffrey Hall and Michael Rosbach of the Brandeis University, and Michael Young of the Rockefeller University - they were shocked that their research on circadian rhythm was the reason why they were chosen to receive 2017's Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

The Biological Clock

Human beings are diurnal creatures.

That means, unlike cockroaches and owls, we wake up in the morning, go about our daily routines, and then go to sleep at night.

And this biological clock, also called the circadian rhythm, exists in all life on Earth, including plants - guiding us and letting us live by regulating the peak and fall of hormones in our body throughout the day, maintaining our body temperature, and even our metabolism.

In fact, maintaining your internal clock is so crucial that disturbances caused to it by jet lag or lack of sleep are known to reduce the quality of life and also lifespan.

The Nobel Prize Winning Discovery

While some may say this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine should have gone to researches that have made a lot of headway in gene-editing or those that have the potential to cure cancer, the discovery of the winning trio is not any less important.

Because what they discovered was a gene in fruit flies that is responsible for coding a protein that accumulates in the cells during the night and then degrades during the day, which is how the circadian rhythm of the fruit flies are maintained.

And while you may think, what's so great about knowing a gene in a fruit fly? The fact remains that in the past, we have discovered many potential cures for human problems through seemingly unrelated researches. Like, for example, the discovery of the Penicillium mold that changed the way we treat diseases forever.

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Story first published: Wednesday, October 4, 2017, 11:35 [IST]
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