Monday, October 05, 2009
Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology
This year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to three scientists, Jack Szostak, Elizabeth Blackburn, and Carol Greider, for their discoveries of telomeres and telomerase. Telomeres, discovered by Szostak and Blabuburn, are found at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes, and prevent the chromosomes from being degraded with copying. Telomerase, discovered by Blackburn and Greider, is an RNA-protein enzyme that acts as a kind of reverse transcriptase that copies telomeres and adds them to the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres are particularly interesting because their lengths are associated with longevity. The fact that older couples' children tend to live longer than do children of younger couples implies something about the activity of telomerase, implying an environmental elements to inheritance of life span.