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Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan wins Nobel Prize in Medicine 2016
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy, stated an official release dated October 3.
"This year's Nobel Laureate discovered and elucidated mechanisms underlying autophagy, a fundamental process for degrading and recycling cellular components," informed the release

Here, the word autophagy originates from the Greek words auto-, meaning "self", and phagein, meaning "to eat". Thus, autophagy denotes "self eating".

"Ohsumi's discoveries led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content. His discoveries opened the path to understanding the fundamental importance of autophagy in many physiological processes, such as in the adaptation to starvation or response to infection. Mutations in autophagy genes can cause disease, and the autophagic process is involved in several conditions including cancer and neurological disease," it added.

Yoshinori Ohsumi had been active in various research areas, but upon starting his own lab in 1988, he was able to perform the break through experiment.

According to the release, autophagy has been known for over 50 years but its fundamental importance in physiology and medicine was only recognised after Yoshinori Ohsumi's paradigm-shifting research in the 1990's. For his discoveries, he is awarded this year's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

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