Friday, October 6, 2017

Biological Clock Discoveries by 3 Americans Earn Nobel Prize

Nobel Prize

Biological Clock – Complete New Field of Research

Recently, three American received the Nobel Prize for their discoveries in Physiology or Medicine with regards to the biological clock of the body which gave rise to a complete new field of research, bringing about awareness on the importance of obtaining adequate sleep. Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash together with Michael W. Young had won the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) award for their work on discovering genetic mechanisms behind circadian rhythms that gets accustomed to the working of the body to various stages of the day, manipulating sleep, behaviour, hormone levels together with body temperature and metabolism.

The Nobel citation had stated that they were capable of peeking within the biological clock and shed light on its inner workings. As per a Nobel background report the Circadian dysfunction has been connected to sleep disorders and depression, bipolar disorder, cognitive function, together with memory formation as well as some neurological diseases.

The effort of the awardees tends to stem back to 1984 when Rosbash together with Hall while at Brandeis and with Young, had isolated the `period gene’ in fruit flies. Rosbash and Hall had discovered a protein that was determined by a gene accumulated during night and degraded in the daytime. Young had located another `clock gene’ a decade later.

Utilising Fruit Flies

The work on biological clock had been carried out utilising fruit flies. Rosbash, a 73 year old professor at Brandeis University had informed The Associated Press that he was very pleased for the fruit fly. He stated that he obtained the call regarding the award just after 5 a.m. and when the landline tends to ring at that hour, generally it is because someone had died.

 He was still a little overwhelmed. However, he added that he tends to stand on the shoulders of giants and that this is a very humbling award. Young who is at Rockefeller University and Hall formerly had been a visiting professor at the University of Maine stated that his prize work had been done at Brandeis.

Hall ironically noted that he had been awake when the call came through regarding the prize for the biological clock, due to age-related changes in his own circadian rhythms. He had checked with the AP through phone from Cambridge, Maine if it had been a hoax. Juleen Zierath of the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute that chooses the laureates had commented that the winners had raised awareness on the importance of appropriate sleep hygiene.

Circadian Rhythms


Another assembly member, Carlos Ibanez had stated that the research is significant in comprehending how humans tend to adjust to shift-work. A scientist at the U.K Medical Research Council, Michael Hastings had commented that the discoveries had given rise to a complete new field of research for biology as well as medicine.

Hasting had informed the AP that till then the biological clock had been observed as a kind of black box and that they were not aware about its operation. However, what they did came to understand was that the genes which made the body clock and once you tend to get the genes, you can take the field wherever one desires to do so.

He further informed AP that that it is a field which had blown up tremendously, driven by the findings by these Americans. According to Hall, scientist had been aware about circadian rhythms right from 1700s though the research team viewed the mechanics together with the underpinning regarding its operation. He stated that understanding can provide the researchers with an opportunity of addressing the circadian rhythms disorders which tends to contribute to the sleep issues.

How Genes Controlled Biological Clock

Young had informed that their research had revealed an amazing mechanism for how genes controlled the biological clock. When questioned at a New York news conference regarding the probable medical breakthroughs from the work, he informed that they were working on it. However, he noted that a genetic mutation had been discovered in some individuals who had chronic issues in getting sleep at night.

Explaining the research, the Nobel statement said that their wellbeing has been affected where there is a temporary mismatch between the external environment and the internal biological clock, for instance while travelling across various time zones and experience `jet lag’. There had also been indications which chronic misalignment between the lifestyles together with the rhythm spoken by inner time keeper is related with increased risk for various diseases.

The misalignment could be related with diseases comprising of cancer and degenerative neurological conditions. Hall commented that if one tends to comprehend how the usual process of biological clock tends to function, it provides an opportunity not inevitability though a chance to influence the internal workings of the clock and probably enhance the well-being of a person. Rosbash informed that he is of the opinion that most of its practical application lies ahead.

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