Trio wins Nobel Prize for Medicine for work on cells, oxygen

Two US scientists, one from the UK awarded Nobel Prize for finding how cells adapt to fluctuating oxygen levels.

Professor Randall Johnson of the Nobel Commitee presents the Nobel laureates of this year''s Nobel Prize in Medicine during a news conference in Stockholm
Professor Randall Johnson of the Nobel Commitee presents the winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine in Stockholm [Pontus Lundahl/TT News Agency/Reuters]

Two scientists from the United States and one from the United Kingdom won the 2019 Nobel Medicine Prize on Monday for finding how cells adapt to fluctuating oxygen levels, paving the way for new strategies to fight diseases such as anaemia and cancer.

The Nobel committee said US researchers William Kaelin and Gregg Semenza shared the prize with British scientist Peter Ratcliffe.

The three will share the Nobel prize sum of nine million Swedish kronor ($914,000).

“The seminal discoveries by this year’s Nobel laureates revealed the mechanism for one of life’s most essential adaptive processes,” the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said in a statement.

“They established the basis for our understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological function,” the jury said.

Their research has “paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anemia, cancer and many other diseases”.

The jury said the trio identified molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen, which is central to a large number of diseases.

Kaelin works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US, while Semenza is director of the Vascular Research Program at the John Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering.

Ratcliffe is director of clinical research at the Francis Crick Institute in London, and director of the Target Discovery Institute in Oxford.

They will receive their prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of scientist Alfred Nobel who created the prizes in his last will and testament.

The winners of this year’s Physics Prize will be revealed on Tuesday, followed by the Chemistry Prize on Wednesday.

The Nobel Prize for Literature will be announced on Thursday, with two laureates to be crowned after a sexual harassment scandal forced the Swedish Academy to postpone the 2018 award, for the first time in 70 years.

The Peace Prize will follow on Friday with bookies predicting a win for Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg on betting sites such as Ladbrokes.

The Economics Prize will wrap up the Nobel prize season on Monday, October 14.

Source: News Agencies