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2010 Lasker Awards Honor Trailblazers in Medical Research and Clinical Care
Date:9/20/2010

that occur in humans with obesity and type 2 diabetes.   Some of the mice carried a mutation in a gene called db, while others carried a mutation in a gene called ob. In a series of ingenious experiments in which he conjoined the circulatory systems of normal and db mice, Coleman discovered that db mice released a substance that restrained the appetite in normal mice, but which the db mice themselves did not respond to, even though they could produce it.  In striking contrast, ob mice did not produce the weight-suppressing substance, although they had the ability to react to it.

Employing new technology to build on Coleman's research, in the mid-1990s Friedman found and isolated the protein encoded by the human ob gene and dubbed it leptin from leptos, the Greek word for thin. Subsequent investigation showed that db mice lack the brain receptor that senses leptin and that triggers a feeling of satiation, meaning hunger persists no matter how much food is consumed. The research also showed that fat cells make leptin, which directs normal mice to curb their food intake. Friedman's breakthroughs fueled intense research into the implications for humans, which led to the discovery of rare people with massive obesity caused by mutations in the leptin gene that cause them to make too little leptin. Such patients experienced significant weight loss after undergoing leptin-replacement therapy. Researchers are now seeking solutions to the problem of obese people who are not adequately responsive to  their own leptin.

Ferrara Cited for Clinical Research Leading to Treatments for Blindness

The 2010 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award honors Napoleone Ferrara, 54, of Genentech, who discovered Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), a key to blood-vessel formation, and used this knowledge to invent an effective treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration
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SOURCE The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation
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