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Japanese, American Scientists Win Nobel Chemistry Prize

A Japanese and a pair of American scientists captured this year's Nobel chemistry prize for discovering a glowing green protein in jellyfish that can be used to spot the beginning of diseases like cancer. Lisa Bryant has more on the prestigious award from Paris.

Gunnar Oquist, permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, announced the winners of this year's sought-after Nobel chemistry award early Wednesday.

"The Royal Swedish Academy of Science has decided to award the Nobel prize in Chemistry for the year 2008 jointly to Professor Martin Chalfie, Colombia University in New York, Professor Osamu Shimomura, Woods Hold Institute of Oceanography, Woods Hole, and Professor Roger Tsien, University of California, San Diego," he said. "And the Academy citation runs: 'For the discovery and development of the green florescent protein, GFP.'"

The scientists all work for American institutions, but Shimomura is Japanese. He was also the first scientist to observed the luminous species of jellyfish off the North American coast in 1962, whose protein has become critical for tracking certain illnesses. The two others have followed up on his initial research.

Scientists use the jellyfish's glowing green protein as a sort of genetic marker, allowing them to observe how organs function and diseases grow. They can use it to track growing cancer tumors, for example, or the development of Alzheimer's disease.

On Tuesday, two Japanese and a Japanese American won the Nobel prize for physics. Pending Nobel announcements include literature, peace and economics.