The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology is awarded jointly to William G. Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.
This year, three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine for their disconvery of the mechanism of how cells regulate oxygen. William G. Kaelin, MD, an oncologist who is the professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Gregg Semenza, MD, PHD, a scientist at Johns Hopkins; and Peter Ratcliffe, FRS, FMedSci, of the Francis Crick Institute in London.
Kaelin, a cancer researcher was studying an inherited syndrome called von Hippel-Lindau’s disease or VHL. A rare inherited (sometimes a new mutation) affliction which increases the likelihood of some tumours. “Through the combined work of these 3 laureates it was thus demonstrated that the response by gene expression to changes in poxygen is directly coupled to oxygen levels in the cell, allowing immediate cellular responses to occur to oxygenation through the action of the HIF transcription factor,” the Nobel Committee stated.
This is a fantastic step forward in the research into genetic diseases such as VHL, HLRCC and BHD. There is more and more research going into these diseases as it is now being recognised a cure for these diseases could unlock the cure for cancer for many others.