This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to the United States. A team of three researchers impressed the committee with their innovative insights into the biological clock. They uncovered the molecular mechanisms that put the circadian rhythm in motion.
The Nobel Prize Went to the First Team that Explained How the Biological Clock Works
Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young are the recipients of the most prestigious award in the scientific community. Their work sheds light into the internal balance that people of the modern world keep disturbing through a hectic routine, international travel, and blue light.
All living creatures of Earth have been connected to the rotation of the planet along millions of years of evolution. In the end, this connection infiltrated into all corners of a living cell.
For years, scientists knew about the existence of the biological clock. Plants, animals, and humans don’t just adapt to the daily changes. Instead, they grew to anticipate this cycle of life and adjust their organisms accordingly for adaptability purposes. However, they couldn’t explain how exactly this synchronization between organism and planet rotation takes places.
It All Boils Down to One Protein Called Period
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 2, 2017
This year’s Nobel Prize awarded the three U.S. scientists for their achievement in identifying the mechanism that activates the circadian rhythm. The team used fruit flies to single out the exact gene that controls this internal clock.
This way, they tracked down a particular kind of protein. This compound has the unique capacity of multiplying during the night only to deteriorate at day. The discovered gene is called period.
This single protein is in charge of regulating the physiology of all living creatures. In time, the three U.S. scientists succeeded to identify lots of other components. Together, they adjust the organism to better accommodate it to external factors such as darkness or light.
The Nobel committee considered this work of quintessential importance. This is the first time the world of science managed to prove that a timekeeper governs all life on Earth including humans.
Therefore, people’s tendency to disregard the demands of their own bodies can lead to serious diseases. For instance, jet lag can now be considered a concerning health risk.
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