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Stem cell prof wins Nobel prize

Switching off mouse genes

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Cardiff University professor Martin Evans has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his research on embryonic stem cells.

He shares the prize with his two colleagues, Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies of the University of Utah and the University of North Carolina respectively.

According to the official announcement, the trio is being recognised for "their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells".

This work laid the foundation for a new technique called gene targeting, which is now used everywhere from basic research to developing new gene therapies. Their work means scientists are able to switch off, or "knock out" individual genes, allowing researchers to work out which genes do what during embryonic development.

Professor Evans was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1993. Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, described the award as a "fitting recognition" of Evans' research.

"He [Evans] a world leader in mammalian genetics and his research has undoubtedly increased our understanding of human diseases. Stem cell research has immense potential. It is a field to where UK scientists such as Martin, have made pioneering contributions and maintain a powerful presence."

The three researchers split a prize of $1.54m (£755,000) from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. ®

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