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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nobel Goes to Genetic Scientists

STOCKHOLM -- U.S. citizens Mario R. Capecchi and Oliver Smithies and Briton Sir Martin J. Evans won the 2007 Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for groundbreaking stem cell discoveries that led to a technology known as gene targeting.

The three scientists modified the DNA of mice in so-called "knockout" experiments that have advanced the understanding of the relationship between genes and a range of human ailments, including cystic fibrosis, cancer and high blood pressure.

The citation from the Nobel committee said the three winners of the coveted 10 million kronor ($1.5 million) prize had discovered "principles for introducing specific gene modification in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells."

The researchers used "knockout mice" -- animals whose genetic code has been altered in the lab to either turn on or off certain genes that mice and humans share.

Capecchi, 70, was born in Verona, Italy, and moved to the United States with his mother after World War II. He did work that "shed light on the cause of several human inborn malformations," the prize citation said, while Evans, 66, applied gene targeting to develop mouse models for human diseases.

Smithies, 82, born in Britain, also used gene targeting to develop mouse models for inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis and the blood disease thalassemia, and other diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis.