2019 Nobel Prize: Medicine

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Britain’s Peter Ratcliffe and William Kaelin and Gregg Semenza of US shared the 2019 Nobel Medicine Prize for their work on how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. The team revealed the understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism.

  • The team identified the molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes to varying levels of oxygen. It has paved way to understand the strategies to fight cancer, anemia and other diseases.
  • Based on their findings,many laboratories and pharmaceutical companies are now on the path of developing drugs that can interfere with disease states by activating or blocking the oxygen – level in the cells.
  • Oxygen levels vary in different parts of the body at different instances after a wound, while exercising or during a brisk walk. Based on the availability of oxygen, the metabolism of these cells differ. The cells produce new RBC or construct new blood vessels in a wound based on the oxygen levels.
  • The trio found ‘how to adapt to changes in oxygen levels’. The fundamental job of cells is to convert oxygen into food. The drawback is that these cells experience constant variations in availability of oxygen.