This year’s Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine have made seminal discoveries concerning the genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death. By establishing and using the nematode C elegans as an experimental model system, possibilities were opened to follow cell division and differentiation from the fertilized egg to the adult. The Laureates have identified key genes regulating organ development and programmed cell death and have shown that corresponding genes exist in higher species, including man. The discoveries are important for medical research and have shed new light on the pathogenesis of many diseases.
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