October 9, 2008

Jellyfish Trick Earns Researchers $1.4m

World in brief

STOCKHOLM A clever trick borrowed from jellyfish has earned two Americans and a Japanese scientist the Nobel Prize for chemistry. The $1.4m prize recognises Osamu Shimomura, now of Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, Martin Chalfie of Columbia University in New York, and Roger Tsien, of the University of California, San Diego, for their discoveries with green fluorescent protein (GFP) - the genetic mechanism responsible for luminosity in jellyfish. Today, scientists use these glowing markers to show, for example, how brain cells develop or how cancer cells spread through tissue. Dr Shimomura made the first critical step, isolating GFP from an Aequorea victoria jellyfish found off America's west coast in 1962. In the 1990s, Dr Chalfie demonstrated GFP's value "as a luminous genetic tag", while Dr Tsien furthered the "general understanding of how GFP fluoresces".

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