Three American scientists won the Nobel Prize for Medicine today for their work on the replication of chromosomes, which has implications for cancer, aging, and stem cell research. The laureates focused on a string of DNA at the end of chromosomes, called telomeres, and discovered an enzyme that allows dividing cells to copy the entire length of genetic material without degradation. Several clinical trials are investigating whether eliminating this enzyme might be useful in cancer treatment.
Elizabeth Blackburn of UC San Francisco, Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins, and Jack Szostak of Harvard will each receive a third of the $1.4 million purse. The medicine award is the first of six Nobel Prizes to be announced in the coming days. Juries in Sweden will announce the laureates of the chemistry, physics, literature, and economics awards, while a committee in Norway awards the Nobel Peace Prize.