In DepthBiomedicine

Cellular oxygen sensor system earns Nobel for trio

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Science  11 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6462, pp. 167
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6462.167

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Summary

This year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three researchers "for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability." The trio—William Kaelin Jr. at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Peter Ratcliffe of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and Gregg Semenza of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland—worked out how a cellular protein called hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) changes the transcription of more than 300 genes when there is a dearth of oxygen in the cell. Drugs manipulating this system are now being tested in trials to treat anemia and cancer. Researchers hope they may also help treat other conditions. The central role of HIF in the cell means these drugs may turn out to be powerful, but will also have to be monitored closely for side effects.

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