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How cells perceive oxygen is awarded the Nobel Prize


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Three scientists who discovered how cells perceive and adapt to oxygen levels have received the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The award was shared by Britain's Sir Peter Ratcliffe and two Americans, William Kaelin and Gregg Semenza.

Their insights influence our daily lives from training to high altitude to our early development in the womb.

Her work leads to new findings treatments for anemia and even cancer.

Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation


William G. Kaelin Jr., Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza.

The Swedish Academy said, "The basic importance of oxygen has been known for centuries, but how cells adapt to changes in oxygen levels has long been unknown."

Sir Peter Ratcliffe works at the Francis Crick Institute and The University of Oxford in the UK, William Kaelin at Harvard in the US and Gregg Semenza at Johns Hopkins University in the US.


Oxygen is in every breath we take, our body is completely dependent on the conversion of food into usable energy.

However, the oxygen content in the body varies, especially during exercise or at high altitudes, or after a cut or wound has disrupted the blood supply.

When oxygen levels drop, cells need to quickly adjust their metabolism.

The oxygen sensitivity of the body can trigger the formation of new red blood cells or the construction of new blood vessels.

It also plays a role in the immune system and in the earliest stages of our development in the womb.

Understanding the role of the body's oxygen sensors leads to ideas for new treatments.

In cancer, tumors can speed up the process of forming new blood vessels and facilitating the growth of the cancer.

To tell the body to make more red blood cells could also be an effective treatment for anemia. [1

9659023] Earlier Winners

2018 – James P Allison and Tasuku Honjo for discovering how to fight cancer with the body's immune system

2017 – Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael Young for the Enlightenment, How Body A Day's Rhythm Keep a Daily Clock

2016 – Yoshinori Ohsumi for discovering how cells stay healthy by recycling waste.

2015 – William C Campbell, Satoshi Ōmura and Youyou Tu for the discovery of antiparasitic drugs.

2014 – John O'Keefe, May Britt Moser and Edvard Moser for the discovery of the navigation system of the brain.

2013 – James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Thomas Sudhof for their discovery of how cells accurately transport material.

2012 – Two pioneers of stem cell research – John Gurdon and d Shinya Yamanaka – received the Nobel Prize after adult cells were transformed into stem cells.

2011 – Bruce Beutler, Jules Hoffmann and Ralph Steinman shared the prize after they had revolutionized understanding of how the body fights infections.

2010 – Robert Edwards for the development of fertility treatment IVF, which in July 1978 led to the first "test tube baby".

2009 – Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider, and Jack Szostak for locating the telomeres at the ends of the chromosomes.

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