By Carolyn Johnson, Globe Staff
A University of Massachusetts scientist won the Nobel Prize in Medicine today freshly eight years after he and a collaborator discovered a powerful new mode to turn off genes. The discovery is revolutionizing medical research, allowing biotech researchers to speedily zero contained by on possible genetic causes for HIV, Alzheimer's and dozens of other devastating diseases.
Craig C. Mello, 45, is the first professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to received the prestigious award, which be announced this morning by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Mello won for his work next to Andrew Fire, then a scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Fire graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Ph.D. within 1983.
The pair discovered that a fussy form of ribonucleic acid, which they dubbed RNA interference, act almost like a biological flimsy switch, turning "off" specific genes within human cell. The cell uses RNA interference to regulate its genetic climate, but Mello and Fire showed that it could be manipulated to study genes' behavior. RNA interference -- name one of the top 10 science breakthroughs by the journal Science surrounded by 2002 and 2003 -- has already help produce a possible treatment for macular degeneration.
"The interesting thing in the region of this prize is so short a time it's taken from the discovery to the Nobel," said Phil Sharp, an institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who also has co-founded a biotech company call Alnylam that is working to develop RNAi therapy. "It's just be such a fundamental change surrounded by how we understand biological systems, and there's also more to come.
Mello, who lives surrounded by Shrewsbury, told the Associated Press that the award came as a "big surprise."
"I know it was a possibility, but I didn't really expect it for maybe a few more years," Mello said. "Both Andrew and I are fairly immature, 40 or so, and it's only be about eight years since the discovery."
UMass Medical School Chancellor and Dean Aaron Lazare said it be "an incredible day" for the school.
"We are so especially proud that Dr. Mello is the Medical School's first recipient of this renowned prize," Lazare in a written statement. "His enthusiasm for irrefutable pursuits and innovation is an inspiration to his faculty colleagues, postdoctoral fellows, students and staff alike."
Fire, 47, presently at Stanford University, and Mello published their research in the memoir Nature in 1998.
Erna Moller, a branch of the Nobel committee, said that their research helped shed spanking new light on a complicated process that have confused researchers for years. The existence of RNA intereference helped them work out why genes that they added to cells sometimes did not give the impression of being to do anything.
"It was resembling opening the blinds contained by the morning," Moller said. "Suddenly you can see everything clearly."
Fire was awakened contained by his California home this morning by a call from the Nobel committee.
"I thought I must be dreaming or I don`t know it was the wrong number," said Fire, who convinced himself of the fitting news by checking the Nobel website.
"It make me feel great. It make me feel incredibly indebted at matching time," he said. "You realize how many other individuals have be major parts of our pains."
The Nobel Prize winners receive $1.4 million and will be honored surrounded by Stockholm on Dec. 10 at a banquet, which will include Scandinavian royalty.
There are also Nobel prizes for physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics. The namesake of the awards, Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, established the prizes contained by his will.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
It is excellent work, and I've seen it within the media, but I appear to have missed your sound out?
now thats hugely good work i am impressed
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