Autophagy - cell recycling.

Yoshinori Ohsumi, a research scientist from Japan, won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on cell recycling or autophagy. In the 1990s Ohsumi pioneered our understanding of autophagy using baker’s yeast to learn how a cell digests and recycles parts (especially older or damaged parts) of itself in order to repair itself.

Studies show that when the recycling process degrades, damaged proteins accumulate and either damage the cell or interfere with its normal processes, thereby causing health problems.

Researchers are working to boost this recycling process in an attempt to slow aging and maintain healthy cells. Conversely, they hope to inhibit autophagy in cancer cells to help reduce their resistance to chemotherapy and other treatments.

The announcement of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries related to mechanisms for autophagy.


Caitlin Sedwick. The Journal of Cell Biology. Yoshinori Ohsumi: Autophagy from beginning to end. Published April 16, 2012. Accessed October 6, 2016. The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine - Press Release. Published October 3, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.

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