Friday, October 7, 2016

Self-Cannibalization: Nobel Prize In Medicine Goes To “Self-Eating” Cells

  • Cellular biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won a Nobel Prize for his work in autophagy, or "self-eating" cells. 
  • The research will be the foundation to developing ways of dealing with bacteria and viruses.
Nobel peace price for medicine
Proof that studies from 2016 Nobel Laureate Yoshinori Ohsumi generated a massive amount of research into autophagy. (Credit: Nobel Assembly)
The Nobel PRIZE in medicine was awarded to cellular biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi for his research in autophagy, a vital mechanism of biological cells by which they digest and recycle waste. Ohsumi’s work is a vital discovery in biomedicine that is the foundation to many forms of treatment. Autophagy literally means “self-eating.” It was first observed in the 1960s, when researchers observed that living cells “recycled” its own waste, destroying sub-cellular parts of itself and transporting them to other regions of the cell. Studying these mechanisms was difficult, and very little was known about them until Ohsumi’s ground breaking experiments in the early 1990s. The Japanese biologist used baker’s yeast to elucidate the mechanism of autophagy in yeast, identifying genes essential in the cell’s waste-processing system. Ohsumi’s work led to a new paradigm in understanding the cell. It was the first time the sophisticated machinery of the complex living cell was revealed. And ultimately, it led to an amazing influx of publications regarding this mechanism.

Yoshinori Ahsumi;
Image result for Yoshinori Ohsumi image

Degradation and the processing of waste is a vital mechanism of our body. Autophagy can eliminate bacteria and viruses after infections. It can rapidly provide fuel for energy and building blocks for renewal of cellular components. It could give us a way to make Parkinson’s disease drugs that work by controlling autophagy and cleaning up cellular clutter. It could provide new ways of fighting Diabetes and a host of other diseases. Of course, those advancements are still some ways off, but Ohsumi’s work has forever changed the landscape of medicine in the 21st century, and it will likely lead people to longer and healthier lives.

Here is a diagram of autugaphy;

So what is autogaphy?

Autophagy (or autophagocytosis) (from the Ancient Greek αὐτόφαγος autóphagos, meaning "self-devouring" and κύτος kýtos, meaning "hollow"), is the natural, regulated, destructive mechanism of the cell that disassembles unnecessary or dysfunctional components. Autophagy allows the orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components.

In macroautophagy, targeted cytoplasmic constituents are isolated from the rest of the cell within a double-membraned vesicle known as an autophagosome. The autophagosome eventually fuses with lysosomes and the contents are degraded and recycled.

Two additional forms of autophagy are also commonly described: microautophagy and chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA). In disease, autophagy has been seen as an adaptive response to stress, which promotes survival, whereas in other cases it appears to promote cell death and morbidity.

In the extreme case of starvation, the breakdown of cellular components promotes cellular survival by maintaining cellular energy levels. The name "autophagy" was coined by Belgian biochemist Christian de Duve in 1963.

The identification of autophagy-related genes in yeast in the 1990s let researchers figure out the mechanisms of autophagy, and led to the award of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Japanese autophagy researcher Yoshinori Ohsumi.