- Ohsumi’s discoveries have led to a new paradigm in the understanding of how the cell recycles its contents
- Autophagy is a process in cell physiology with major implications for human health and disease
- Mutations in autophagy genes can cause disease, and the autophagic process is involved in several conditions including cancer and neurological disease
Stockholm, October 3, 2016: Japan’s microbiologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Medicine Prize on Monday for his work on autophagy — a process by which cells “eat themselves” if that’s disrupted it can cause Parkinson’s and diabetes. Autophagy is a process in cell physiology with major implications for human health and disease.
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The process is essential for the degradation and recycling of the damaged cell parts and its failure which is believed to be responsible for cell damage and ageing.
During the 1960s, researchers first observed that the cell could destroy its own contents by wrapping them up in membranes and transporting them to a recycling compartment called the lysosome.
According to PTI/AFP, “Difficulties in studying the phenomenon meant that little was known until, in a series of brilliant experiments in the early 1990s, Yoshinori Ohsumi used baker’s yeast to identify genes essential for autophagy.”
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He went on to explain the mechanisms for autophagy in yeast and also showed that similar kind of sophisticated machinery is used in human cells as well.
Ohsumi’s discoveries “have led to a new paradigm in the understanding of how the cell recycles its contents,” the jury said.
“Mutations in autophagy genes can cause disease, and the autophagic process is involved in several conditions including cancer and neurological disease,” it added.
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71- year old,Ohsumi received a PhD from the University of Tokyo in 1974, and is currently a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
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