Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

RNAi Fire and Mello Win Nobel — Expected But Early

Premium

RNAi pioneers Andy Fire and Craig Mello have won this year’s Nobel Prize in physiology for their discovery of RNAi, the Karolinska Institute announced in early October.

Though most in the RNAi field had expected the two researchers would eventually receive the prize for their work, some were surprised that it had been awarded so quickly.

Despite this, and despite being the most important recognition of the gene-silencing technology, some stress that it is unlikely that the event will have much of an impact on the RNAi industry.

Although it can sometimes take decades before researchers are awarded the Nobel Prize for their work, Rockefeller University’s Tom Tuschl notes that the speed with which the Nobel Foundation recognized Fire and Mello speaks to the importance of their work.

RNAi “had a profound impact on publication status in journals; it has industry behind it, at least in mammalian systems, [producing] reagents that are used in pharmacologic research for target validation; it [led to] startup businesses that are developing drugs based on siRNAs,” he says. “So I don’t know how long you have to wait to see an impact. I don’t know what else you need to make this a more visible field.”

 Tuschl likened the discovery of RNAi to Kary Mullis’ development of PCR, after which “every laboratory [began] using it because there was no other way to amplify a gene in a fast period of time.” Mullis invented PCR in 1985 and was awarded the Nobel Prize eight years later in 1993.

 In light of the impact RNAi has had, “the Nobel Prize is almost late,” Tuschl says.

— Doug Macron

 

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.