Stem cell researchers Mario Capecchi, Martin Evans and Oliver Smithies won the 2007 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology for their work on gene changes in mice using embryonic cells, Sweden's Karolinska Institute said on Monday.
The prestigious 10 million Swedish crown (755,000 pound) prize recognized the international team's work, saying the benefits to mankind would increase in many years to come.
Capecchi was born in Italy and is a U.S. citizen. Both Evans and Smithies are British-born. Evans is a Briton while Smithies is a U.S. citizen.
The prize awarders said the discoveries made by the three have led to a new branch of medicine known as gene targeting. This enables certain genes to be turned off "allowing scientists to establish the roles of individual genes in health and disease".
Almost every aspect of mammal physiology can be studied by gene targeting, the institute said.
Capecchi's research uncovered the role of the genes involved in organ development in mammals and has shed light on the causes of several human birth abnormalities.
Evans's work has helped in studying cystic fibrosis and in testing the effects of gene therapy. Smithies also worked on gene targeting for cystic fibrosis and the blood disease thalassemia as well as hypertension and atherosclerosis.
"In summary, gene targeting in mice has pervaded all fields of biomedicine," Karolinska said in a statement.
"Its impact on the understanding of gene function and its benefits to mankind will continue to increase over many years to come."
Medicine is traditionally the first of the Nobels awarded each year. The prizes for achievement in science, literature and peace bearing the name of Alfred Nobel were first awarded in 1901 according to the will of the Swedish dynamite millionaire.