The Nobel Prize for medicine has been awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his work on how the body cells remove toxins and repair themselves. The 8 million Swedish Kronor which is equivalent to £718,000 will be awarded to the scientists for unraveling the mechanism of autophagy.
Autophagy could be described as the recycling of the dead cells in which the useful components are picked to generate energy or to create cellular components. The process is crucial for preempting any cancerous growth, keeping the metabolism of the body healthy and affords protection against conditions like diabetes.
Any anomaly in the process of autophagy can precipitate some diseases like Parkinson’s disease, type II diabetes, cancer and a host of age-related disorders. Any mutation in autophagy can cause some genetic disorders.
While awarding the prize, the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said that Ohsumi’s discoveries how cells recycle the defunct components of dead cells. His research also helps us understand some physiological processes like how the cells adapt to starvation and infections.
The Nobel Prize was awarded first in 1901 by the will of Sir Alfred Nobel, businessman, and inventor of dynamite. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is the first award of the Nobel series and has been given to Yoshinori Ohsumi. He is a cell biologist affiliated with the Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Frontier Research Center.
Way back in 1950’s and 60’s the process of autophagy was known and studied. The process helped to recycle proteins and other cellular components. The process was especially active when the cells were under stress like when the body is starving, and there is a shortage of nutrients or when the organism is warding off an infection. However, the exact mechanism of the process was not known. It was Ohsumi, and his colleagues set out to explore the exact mechanism of autophagy and succeeded in their endeavor.