The three men all contributed to the development of green fluorescent protein, which scientists today use widely to watch processes that were previously invisible, such as the development of nerve cells in the brain or how cancer cells spread.
Shimomura isolated the protein from a jellyfish already in 1962, and discovered its bright green glow when held under ultraviolet light. Chalfie attached the protein to material in cells in Caenorhabditis elegans, a roundworm used as a model in biological research, and made the cells glow. Tsien extended the colour palette beyond green allowing researchers to give various proteins and cells different colours. This enables scientists to follow several different biological processes at the same time.
GFP has also been used in other cases. A few years ago certain Asian fishes was genetically modified with green, red and yellow fluorescent protein and are now being sold commersially. Also pigs has been given GFP to become fluorescent and one of those pigs got a baby pig that was born fluorescent only 6 months ago.
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