American Nobel laureate Irwin Rose, a biochemist whose groundbreaking work helped in the development of treatments for cervical cancer and cystic fibrosis, died on Tuesday, the University of California, Irvine said. He was 88.

Rose won the 2004 Nobel Prize in chemistry, along with Israel Institute of Technology researchers Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko, for research into how cells break down and dispose of old and damaged proteins in plants and animals.

"These findings of the 'kiss-of-death' mechanisms inside cells proved revolutionary, transforming the field of cell biology and ultimately fostering a new understanding of the molecular activity present in cancer and other diseases," the university said.

Errors in the degradation process can lead to diseases such as cervical cancer and cystic fibrosis, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said at the time it made the Nobel award.

Rose died in his sleep in Deerfield, Massachusetts, his family told the university, where he worked during the latter part of his career.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1926, Rose earned a doctoral degree at the University of Chicago in 1952. He spent most of his career at the Fox Chase Center in Philadelphia.

In 1997, Rose took up a special research position with the department of physiology and biophysics at the University of California, Irvine.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)