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Nobel Prize-Winning Discovery
Date:12/20/2007

Biomedical Research Is a Winning Pursuit

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following release was issued by Frankie L. Trull President, Foundation for Biomedical Research:

Biomedical research the National Institutes of Health deemed "not worthy of pursuit" in 1980 earned Mario Capecchi a Nobel Prize last month.

Despite the early setback, the Harvard-educated genetics professor persisted toward his goal. Within four years, Capecchi filed another NIH grant proposal, this time armed with further evidence of what he had sought to prove, that something called gene targeting was possible in mammals.

The Institutes, in responding to Capecchi's new request, said, "We are glad that you didn't follow our advice."

A lot of people feel the same way. Twenty years after his breakthroughs at the University of Utah's School of Medicine, it is clear how far researchers' understanding of human disease has progressed.

Another researcher, Oliver Smithies, who was concurrently pursuing a similar mission at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, shares the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The prize also belongs to Martin J. Evans of Cardiff University in Wales, who demonstrated that genes from embryonic stem cells can be inherited.

Want to figure out what role a certain gene plays in susceptibility to cancer? Or what another gene has to do with aging? Due to Capecchi's work, genetic modifications in mice make it possible to render selected genes inactive, thereby providing information about their functions.

Genes linked with hereditary conditions can be deactivated, or turned "off," in "knock-out mice." Researchers are already capable of knocking out more than 10,000 genes. In case you're not counting, this means researchers are halfway to uncovering the function of every gene common among mammals.

Conversely -- and here's where it gets really interesting -- scient
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SOURCE Foundation for Biomedical Research
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