2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to three scientists for explaining how cells adapt to oxygen levels

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been jointly awarded to William G. Kaelin Jr, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza “for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.”

The award was shared between the three scientists. While it has been known for centuries that that animals need oxygen to convert food into energy, how cells adapt to changes in oxygen levels hasn’t been understood.

The Nobel Committee said in a press release: “William G. Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza discovered how cells can sense and adapt to changing oxygen availability. They identified molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen. The seminal discoveries by this year’s Nobel Laureates revealed the mechanism for one of life’s most essential adaptive processes. They established the basis for our understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological function. Their discoveries have also paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anaemia, cancer and many other diseases.”

It will be followed by the prizes for physics on Tuesday, chemistry on Wednesday, literature on Thursday, and economics on Monday, October 14.

In between, the Peace Prize will be awarded in Oslo on Friday, October 11, with Swedish teen climate activist Greta seen as the favourite on betting sites such as Ladbrokes.

Predictions about possible winners are notoriously difficult as the prize-awarding institutions keep the names of the nominees secret for 50 years.

For the Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has only disclosed that it received 301

Other names circulating are Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who clinched a peace deal with arch foe Eritrea, and NGOs such as Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists. (AFP)

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