Circadian Rhythm Researchers Win 2017 Nobel Prize
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to three leading scientists, Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young.
The scientists isolated a gene in fruit flies that is responsible for a protein that accumulates in the night but is degraded in the day. They discovered that body clock misalignment plays a significant role in medical conditions and disorders, helping explain the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, winter depression and jet lag.
The circadian system has its tentacles around everything… It’s ticking away in almost every tissue in the human body. – Rosbash, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, explained in the HHMI Bulletin in 2014.
President of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Erin O’Shea, said that people have observed for centuries that plants and animals change their behavior to sync with the light present in their environment. Hall, Rosebush and Young have discovered how this happens.
“Genes make up the mechanics by which organisms can keep track of time and this allows them — just like your wristwatch — to coordinate their behavior their sleep-wake cycle with the changes in the light-dark cycle,” – Erin O’Shea
In addition to Seasonal Affective Disorder, Alzheimer’s, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), heart disease, obesity and diabetes and other metabolic issues are among the many conditions that appear to be linked to circadian rhythms being out of whack.
We learned we are truly rhythmic organisms, it’s hard to find a cell that does not oscillate in response to these clocks. – Michael W. Young
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