Stockholm: Three researchers two from the US and one from Britain on Monday shared the Nobel Medicine Prize for discoveries on how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability, paving the way for new cancer treatments, the Nobel Assembly said.
William Kaelin and Gregg Semenza of the US and Britain’s Peter Ratcliffe split the nine million Swedish kronor ($914,000, 833,000 euros) award.
“They established the basis for our understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological function,” the jury said, adding that their research has “paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anaemia, cancer and many other diseases.
Their research established the basis for the understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological functions, the institute said.
“Oxygen sensing is central to a large number of diseases,” it said. “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.”
Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year. The prizes for achievements in science, peace and literature have been awarded since 1901 and were created in the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel.
Nobel medicine laureates have included scientific greats such as Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, and Karl Landsteiner, who identified separate blood types and so enabled safe transfusions to be widely introduced.
Last year American James Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo won the prize for discoveries about how to harness the immune system in cancer therapies.