HT TODAY: October 17, 1968 – An Indian shares the Nobel Prize for medicine with 2 Americans | Latest India News

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Hargobind Khorana, born in Stockholm, India, was today named co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1968 along with two other US nationals for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.

The other two are Robert Holley of Cornell University and Dr Marshall Nirenberg of the National Heart Institute, Bethesda, Maryland.

The quote said the three scientists, who this year will get a record cash value of $ 70,000 ( ??5.25 lakhs), had worked independently, but their investigation converged on the solution of a common problem.

Dr Khorana and Mr Holley, who probed the structure of the genetic code, explained how it is used by the cell for protein biosynthesis

Dr Khorana, 46, started his career as an organic chemist. Between 1950 and 1952, he worked with Nobel Laureate A. Todd in Cambridge, England, on the construction of a complex biological substance called nucleotides.

By the late 1950s, he was ready to take the next step, starting experiments to combine multiple nucleotides. Its final objective was to be able to synthesize in the test tube nucleic acids containing a known sequence of nucleotides.

The synthetic nucleic acids he managed to produce allowed Dr. Khorana to study the genetic (hereditary) code of all amino acids in great detail.

Ingenious experiment

The Royal Caroline Institute of Medicine and Physiology, which made the decision to award the prize to the three scientists, said Dr Nirenberg, 41, from New York, opened up this area of ​​research with a very simple but ingenious experiment. . it could clarify the general character of the genetic code.

Dr Nirenberg, who heads the section of biochemistry and genetics at the Bethesda Institute, received the National Medal of Science from President Johnson in 1965.

The Caroline Institute explained that the decoding of the genetic code, performed by Dr. Nirenberg, provides the key to translating from one biological language into another. It translates the language of nucleic acids into the language of proteins, and thus explains how the genes of the cell direct the function of a cell.

When asked for a layman’s explanation of what the award-winning experiment meant, Professor Hugo Theorell, winner of the Swedish Medicine Prize in 1955, said: “This means that we suddenly have to understand the alphabet of the life as big as heredity is concerned. Some illnesses result from printing errors in this process. There could be something wrong with hemoglobin (the red coloration of blood cells), but also with enzymes (active proteins), which could be poorly constructed, something that is in the body prone to certain diseases. .

“The three Nobel laureates have not provided any cure for such diseases, but their great achievement in research is that they have shown what we need to attack to fight such inherited diseases,” said Professor Theorell.

“It can be said that the three winners independently succeeded in breaking the genetic code, Dr Nirenberg providing the very key to its structure and Dr Khorana and Mr Holley proving its structure in detail.” he added.

Dr Melvin Cohn of the Salk Institute of Biochemical Research in California, who worked closely with Nobel Laureate Dr Hargovind Khorana, said today in New Delhi that if you ask an American biochemistry student Elementary, he would tell you who Dr Khorana is.

Dr Cohn, who is on a speaking tour in India, said Dr Khorana was one of only 500 members of the US National Academy of Sciences. “It is a rare honor bestowed on an American scientist. ” he said.

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