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Israelis, American win chemistry Nobel

By Associated Press
Published October 7, 2004

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Two Israelis and an American won the Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for showing how cells can give a "kiss of death" to destroy unwanted proteins, a finding that could help scientists find new medicines for cancer and other diseases. It's the first time an Israeli has won a Nobel science prize.

Israelis Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko and American Irwin Rose were cited for revealing a process that gives doomed proteins a chemical label and then chops them up.

That process in turn governs such key tasks as cell division, DNA repair and quality control of newly produced proteins, the Royal Swedish Academy of Science said in awarding the prize. If it goes wrong, diseases like cervical cancer can result, the academy said.

Ciechanover, 56, is the director of the Rappaport Family Institute for Research in Medical Sciences at the Technion, in Haifa, Israel, while Hershko, 70, originally from Hungary, is a professor there. The 78-year-old Rose is a professor emeritus at the University of California-Irvine.

All three will share the $1.3-million cash prize for their work, done in the 1980s.

At a news conference in Hershko's apartment in the Israeli port city of Haifa, the two Israelis said they hope their work will lead to new advances in the treatment of cancer.

The protein-destroying process the scientists discovered was completely unexpected, because scientists had thought such destruction was not regulated, said Lars Thelander, a member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

[Last modified October 7, 2004, 00:30:24]

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