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Breakthrough Prize Winners Announced

Winners of this year's Breakthrough Prize include Ionis Pharmaceuticals' Frank Bennett and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Adrian Krainer, who developed a gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy, according to the prize foundation.

The Breakthrough Prize, which was started seven years ago, is sponsored by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Ma Huateng, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Anne Wojcicki and is awarded in a glitzy ceremony likened to the Oscars. In 2014, Milner told the New York Times that science should be "as glitzy as rock 'n' roll."

Bennett and Krainer developed a drug to treat SMA called nusinersen, the Guardian reports. Stat News adds that it is marketed by Biogen as Spinraza. As the Guardian reports the drug works by targeting a gene related to the one affected in patients to boost the production of a motor neuron protein.

Also among the winners in life science are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Angelika Amon for her work on aneuploidy and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center's Zhijian Chen for uncovering the DNA-sensing enzyme cGAS.

The Breakthrough Prize winners also include the University of Pennsylvania's Charles Kane and Eugene Mele as well as Jocelyn Bell Burnell from the University of Dundee and the University of Oxford in physics and Vincent Lafforgue from CNRS in mathematics. Each prize is worth $3 million.

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