Stockholm: US researchers William Kaelin and Gregg Semenza and Britain’s Peter Ratcliffe shared Monday the Nobel Medicine Prize for discoveries on how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability, the Nobel Assembly said in a release.
“They established the basis for our understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological function,” the jury said.
William Kaelin, Gregg Semenza and Peter Ratcliffe’s research has ‘paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anemia, cancer and many other diseases’.
The jury said the trio had 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.
“Intense ongoing efforts in academic laboratories and pharmaceutical companies are now focused on developing drugs that can interfere with different disease states by either activating or blocking, the oxygen-sensing machinery,” the jury informed.
William Kaelin works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US, while Gregg Semenza is director of the Vascular Research Programme at the John Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering. Peter Ratcliffe is director of clinical research at the Francis Crick Institute in London, and director of the Target Discovery Institute in Oxford.
The three will share the Nobel prize sum of nine million Swedish kronor (about USD 9,14,000).
They will receive their prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm, December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of scientist Alfred Nobel who created the prizes in his last will and testament.
Last year, the Nobel for Medicine went to immunologists James Allison of the US and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, for figuring out how to release the immune system’s brakes to allow it to attack cancer cells more efficiently.