Nobel Prize in Medicine

William G. Kaelin of Harvard Medical School, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe of Oxford University and Gregg L. Semenza of Johns, Hopkins University are the Nobel laureates for 2019 in the field of medicine or physiology. They have awarded for their groundbreaking research about how cells sense and adapt to low oxygen levels. This discovery pitched up the understanding about growth of tumor cells, many treatments, obesity, diabetes etc.

It is important to know that how cells behave in hypoxic conditions as oxygen is crucial for almost every metabolic activity of cells. Low oxygen levels can lead to death of cell and further can cause organ failure. These scientists discovered the role of Hypoxic Inducible Factor( HIF) in regulating the cell metabolism when available oxygen level is low.

Work of  nebel luareates:

In the early 1990s, Semenza and Ratcliffe brought to light that cells start producing the protein called HIF -1 to adapt to low oxygen levels. In hypoxic conditions HIF-1 protein check the oxygen consuming process changing the activity of genes so that cells can adapt quickly and sustain when oxygen levels are low. Then after some years, Ratcliffe and Kaelin described how varying oxygen amounts control the production of HIF-1 in cells.

Role of HIF-1 In growth of in tumor cells:

The tumor cells consume the nutrients and oxygen in greater amounts as compared to others because of their higher multiplicity.  But the vessels supplying blood to these cells are not able to do that. Hence cancer cells are left with lower amounts of oxygen to survive. Cancer cell survive these hypoxic conditions by producing more of HIF-1 proteins. So these days therapeutic treatments of cancer focus more on destroying HIf-1 protein.


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