Gene Modification in Mice

Portrait: Alfred Nobel

The award is named after Alfred
Nobel, the inventor of dynamite
© Florman

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has decided to award the researchers for their discoveries of "principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells".

This year's Nobel Laureates have made a series of ground-breaking discoveries concerning embryonic stem cells and DNA recombination in mammals. Their discoveries led to the creation of an immensely powerful technology referred to as gene targeting in mice. It is now being applied to virtually all areas of biomedicine – from basic research to the development of new therapies.

Gene targeting is often used to inactivate single genes. Such gene "knockout" experiments have elucidated the roles of numerous genes in embryonic development, adult physiology, aging and disease. To date, more than ten thousand mouse genes (approximately half of the genes in the mammalian genome) have been knocked out. Ongoing international efforts will make "knockout mice" for all genes available within the near future.

With gene targeting it is now possible to produce almost any type of DNA modification in the mouse genome, allowing scientists to establish the roles of individual genes in health and disease. Gene targeting has already produced more than five hundred different mouse models of human disorders, including cardiovascular and neuro-degenerative diseases, diabetes and cancer.

Gene targeting in mice has pervaded all fields of biomedicine. Its impact on the understanding of gene function and its benefits to mankind will continue to increase over many years to come.; Source: The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet