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"Nobel Prize Excerpts"
Nobel Prize Excerpts
By The Associated Press,
Excerpts from the citation by the Nobel Assembly at the
Karolinska Institute for the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or
This year's Nobel laureates ... have made seminal discoveries
concerning the control of the cell cycle. They have identified key
molecules that regulate the cell cycle in all eukaryotic organisms,
including yeasts, plants, animals and humans. These fundamental
discoveries have a great impact on all aspects of cell growth.
Defects in cell cycle control may lead to the type of chromosome
alterations seen in cancer cells. This may in the long term open
new possibilities for cancer treatment.
It is of central importance in the fields of biology and
medicine to understand how the cell cycle is controlled. This
year's Nobel laureates have made seminal discoveries at the
molecular level of how the cell is driven from one phase to the
next in the cell cycle.
Leland Hartwell realized already at the end of the 1960s the
possibility of studying the cell cycle with genetic methods. He
used baker's yeast, Saccharymyces cerevisiae, as a model system,
which proved to be highly suitable for cell cycle studies.
Paul Nurse followed Hartwell's approach in using genetic methods
for cell cycle studies. He used a different type of yeast,
Schizzosaccharomyces pombe, as a model organism. This yeast is only
distantly related to baker's yeast, since they separated from each
other during evolution more than one billion years ago.
Tim Hunt discovered the first cyclin molecule in the early
1980s. Cyclins are proteins formed and degraded during each cell
cycle. The discovery of cyclin, which was made using sea urchins,
Arbacia, as a model system, was the result of Hunt's finding that
this protein was degraded periodically in the cell cycle.
Most biomedical research areas will benefit from these basic
discoveries. The findings in the cell cycle field are about to be
applied to tumor diagnostics. Increased levels of CDK-molecules and
cyclins are sometimes found in human tumors, such as breast cancer
and brain tumors. The discoveries may in the long term also open
new principles for cancer therapy. Already now clinical trials are
in progress using inhibitors of CDK-molecules.
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