Josh Reynolds/AP
Osamu Shimomura

Glowing Jellyfish Protein Wins Scientists Nobel Prize

October 08, 2008 11:30 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Two Americans and a Japanese researcher have been recognized for discovering the glowing protein, which aids scientists by illuminating cells, tissues and organs.

Protein Used as Research Tool

Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien were awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry "for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP,” by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Wednesday.

Shimomura first discovered in 1962 that GFP isolated from Aequorea victoria jellyfish glowed bright green when exposed to ultraviolet light.

"Since then, this protein has become one of the most important tools used in contemporary bioscience," the academy said in a press release. GFP now allows researchers to observe intricate processes in cells, such as how nerve cells develop and how cancer cells spread, that were invisible to them before.

The three researchers will share the $1.4 million prize for their joint work. After Shimomura's initial discovery, Chalfie later found that the protein could be used as a genetic tag for a variety of biological phenomena, while Tsien furthered the technology used in the process by expanding it to different colors beyond green. Tsien's work allowed researchers to assign different colors to cells and proteins to track several biological processes simultaneously.

"I am very pleased and honored," Tsien said, reported Scientific American, citing Reuters. "I didn't expect it. There had been some rumors but from sources who were very questionable," he joked.

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