The first 2016 Nobel Prize winner was announced on Monday, October 3. Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research on how cells cope with diseases and try to stay healthy. The winner is seventy-one years old and started his research twenty-four years ago.
Yoshinori Ohsumi is a Japanese scientist who started studying in-depth the way in which cells work in 1992. The study is concerned with autophagy, which is a process of cells trying to regenerate themselves by eating the damaged parts of themselves. Basically, they feed on themselves.
What the cells do is remove the damaged parts and reincorporate them in the organism as healthy parts. Old parts of the cells are also submitted to this treatment. Autophagy could be characterized as a destructive system, but it can turn out to be actually defensive.
There are many beneficial implications of the new study on cells by Yoshinori Ohsumi. Autophagy can prove to be a good method to fight against cancerous cells. Medication based on it could be used for treating not only cancer but mental illnesses too, as well as diabetes.
A healthy organism should display autophagy. Specialists wonder whether it is the disease what stops the process, or the dysfunctionality of the process causes the disease. According to researchers, this dilemma can be applied especially to brain disorders.
Researchers in the medical field are already seeking to put scientist’s Yoshinori Ohsumi findings to good use. They are thinking about developing proper treatments for breast cancer. Another team of specialists is trying to come up with a solution for preventing Alzheimer’s disease. They believe that autophagy can play a fundamental role in stopping amyloid plaques, which cause Alzheimer’s, from spreading.
Specialists also explain that an intense activity of cells can have the opposite effect. In other words, it is bad if autophagy doesn’t work, but it is also bad if it works too well. Health experts believe that regenerating cells can also help cancerous cells spread and grow.
Autophagy has been studied by other scientists too. However, the merit of Yoshinori Ohsumi is that he thought about the implications of treating diseases. The importance of this process could trigger new approach to addressing especially mental health problems.
There are still five other Nobel Prize winners to be announced. Physics is next, followed by Chemistry. There are many more scientific discoveries that will amaze the world, and the Nobel Prize is an opportunity to global recognition for researchers.
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