VARIOUS: US' Roger D Kornberg wins Nobel prize for chemistry, follows laureate father, Arthur
- Title: VARIOUS: US' Roger D Kornberg wins Nobel prize for chemistry, follows laureate father, Arthur
- Date: 5th October 2006
- Summary: WIDE OF NEWS CONFERENCE
- Reuters ID: LVA79EPPMJZB8G5G8XBLYQZOG1JY
- Duration: 00:00:05
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- Topics: Science / Technology
- Story Text: American Roger Kornberg won the 2006 Nobel prize for chemistry on Wednesday (October 4) for describing the essential process of gene copying in cells, research that can give insight into illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
Kornberg's prize came 47 years after he watched his father Arthur accept the medicine Nobel in Stockholm for gene work.
The work of Stanford University's Kornberg, 59, has "a fundamental medical importance," the Swedish Academy of Sciences said as it announced the award, worth 10 million Swedish crowns (USD 1.37 million).
Kornberg's discovery showed how deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, which is in essence a silent map, is "read" by RNA and converted into an actual protein within a cell.
Speaking outside his California home, Kornberg said; "In my case I called my wife who was still abroad, to let her know, and actually tried to reach my father and couldn't get him on the phone, only to discover that he was on his way, and he arrived at the door."
Kornberg's father, Arthur was delighted to hear of his son's achievement.
"It's something I never expected over the years, but, in the last few years his work has been so awesome, and has had the impact that he has described to you. I thought it was inevitable but one doesn't know exactly when". The Academy said the process of gene copying, known as "genetic transcription", was central to life.
"If transcription stops, genetic information is no longer transferred into the different parts of the body. Since these are then no longer renewed, the organism dies within a few days," the Academy said.
Disturbances in transcription contribute to many human illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease and various kinds of inflammation, it added. Poisonous toadstools kill by interrupting the process.
Understanding transcription is also important for the development of various therapeutic applications of stem cells, the Academy said.
Kornberg was the first to create pictures showing transcription in action. His depictions were so detailed that separate atoms could be distinguished.
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