Japanese researcher’s discoveries could revolutionize the way we treat diseases

Japanese researcher’s discoveries could revolutionize the way we treat diseases

Scientific discoveries made by Yoshinori Ohsumi, a 71-year-old Japanese researcher who won the 2016 Nobel Prize on Monday, are expected to revolutionize the way we treat diseases.

Ohsumi's research on autophagy, a metabolic recycling process in which cells gobble parts of themselves to survive and stay healthy, has significant implications for a n umber of diseases, including diabetes and cancer and certain types of neurodegenerative diseases.

By eating or gobbling up their own damaged or dying parts, cells enables them to have a new resource from which they can repair themselves and keep them running.

The Nobel Assembly said in a statement, "Thanks to Ohsumi and others following in his footsteps, we now know that autophagy controls important physiological functions where cellular components need to be degraded and recycled."

The Japanese researcher's initial work focused on the genes behind the so-called autophagy process in yeast cells. However, scientists later found that there is a great potential to use it to treat many human diseases.

An early-stage clinical trials have suggested that it can fundamentally change everything from the way we remove cancerous growths to how we treat dementia disorders. Jay Debnath, a professor of pathology at UC San Francisco, is using Ohsumi's discoveries to develop breast cancer treatments.

Each Nobel Prize is worth $930,000. The prestigious awards will be handed out at prize distribution ceremonies scheduled to be held in Stockholm and Oslo on December 10, which marks the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's demise in 1896.


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