Yoshinori Ohsumi wins the 2016 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology

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Biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi, of the Tokyo Institution of Technology, has been awarded the medicine award for his discoveries in autophagy – the procedure whereby a cell recycles part of its own contents.

Researchers had been aware of autophagy since around the 1960s, but knew little about how it worked — until Ohsumi’s pioneering experiments with baker’s yeast in the 1990s.

yoshinori-ohsumi-nobel-prize

It’s important because autophagy can remove infiltrating intra cellular bacteria, and disrupted autophagy has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, type two diabetes and other disorders that particularly affect the elderly.