Nobel Prize for Medicine awarded to trio who discovered how cells sense and adapt to oxygen

JON HAWORTH and ERIN SCHUMAKER
Nobel Prize for Medicine awarded to trio who discovered how cells sense and adapt to oxygen

Nobel Prize for Medicine awarded to trio who discovered how cells sense and adapt to oxygen originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

Three scientists have been announced as the winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering how cells “sense and adapt to oxygen availability,” the Nobel Committee announced Monday.

William G. Kaelin, Jr, Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza will equally share the 9 million kronor ($918,000) cash award.

The Karolinska Institute said that the discoveries made by the three men "have fundamental importance for physiology and have paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anemia, cancer and many other diseases."

Furthermore, the scientists “revealed the mechanism for one of life’s most essential adaptive processes,” according to the institute.

Kaelin works at Harvard, Semenza is at Johns Hopkins University and Ratcliffe works at the Francis Crick Institute in Britain, according to The Associated Press.

PHOTO: Thomas Perlmann (right), the secretary of the Nobel Committee, speaks as the winners are announced of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine during a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, Oct. 7, 2019. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)

While humans have long understood why oxygen is important, it wasn’t clear how cells adapt to changes in oxygen.

The three scientists discovered how the body’s cells sense and change in response to different oxygen levels, which is important since oxygen is a critical factor in a number of diseases.

This year's prize marks the 110th prize in medicine awarded since 1901.

Last year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to James Allison and Tusuki Honjo for their work on immunotherapy, a method of harnessing the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

Nobel prizes in chemistry, physics and literature will be announced this week, with the most famous prize, the Nobel Peace Prize, announced Friday.