Three Americans Share 2009 Nobel for Medicine for Discovery of Enzyme Telomerase

October 5, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Three American scientists won the 2009 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology for their discovery of how the body protects the chromosomes housing vital genetic code. Elizabeth Blackburn, an Australian-born professor at the University of California in San Francisco; Carol Greider, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore; and Jack Szostak, a London-born professor at Harvard Medical School and investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, won for research that solves a big problem in biology: how chromosomes can be “copied in a complete way during cell divisions and how they are protected against degradation, which has implications for cancer, stem cell and aging research. 

The discovery lies at the ends of the chromosomes called the telomeres, and in an enzyme that forms them telomerase. The enzyme telomerase allows for replacement of short bits of DNA known as a telomere, which are otherwise lost when a cell divides via mitosis. Telomerase, allows cells to divide continuously without dying and could play a role in the uncontrolled spread of cancer cells. It is now hoped and research is underway that cancer might be treated by removing telomerase. The award, announced Monday, includes a 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) purse, a diploma and an invitation to the prize ceremonies in Stockholm on Dec. 10.  The Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, literature and the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced later this week, while the economics award will be presented on Oct. 12.



One Response to “Three Americans Share 2009 Nobel for Medicine for Discovery of Enzyme Telomerase”

  1. Constant Gina on October 5th, 2009 9:24 am

    I saw the cameras outside the Nobel hall this morning on the way to work (I work across the road from the KI) and remembered it was today they announced the medicine prize. As you say Alex, this one was pretty much expected, if not this year then within the next few.
    We usually get to meet the winners when they come over next month so I’ll have to try to think of a good question!

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