Why in news?
- Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash & Michael W. Young are to be jointly awarded the 2017 “Nobel Prize for Medicine”.
- The award is for their work in discovering the mechanisms controlling the internal clocks in living organisms.
What is their research about?
- The trio’s work was in ‘Chrono Biology’ – A science that examines periodic phenomena in living organisms in relation to nature.
- They made significant contributions in unravelling the genetic coding and protein pathways that regulate the circadian rhythm.
- This rhythm is what tells us when it is time to eat, sleep or wake up – even when we have no bedside alarm.
What were the acheievements of the trio?
- Isolation of a gene called ‘Period’ in fruit-flies that disrupted its circadian clock was the most important acheivement.
- PER – A protein named ‘PER’ that serves as a functional communicator for the ‘Period Gene’ was discovered.
- PER was found to accumulate at night & diminish during the day.
- Timeless – A second gene called ‘Timeless’ that acts through its ‘TIM protein’ in conjunction with ‘PER’ was also identified.
- This was found to cause the seesawing of cellular protein levels.
- Doubletime – A third gene called ‘Doubletime’ was discovered to be the regulator of the frequency of the oscillations.
What are the implications?
- The current research has added significantly to the science that studies the linkages between sleep & metabolic activity.
- The impact of smartphone & other gadgets in disrupting circadian rhythms is already being studied extensively.
- There is more clarity now, in the link between peak physical performance in sport and the time of the day.
- Circadian rhythm may well hold the key to future breakthroughs in the modulation and treatment of various diseases.
Source: The Hindu
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