Nobel Prize in medicine not for genetics – but quite close

2019 medical Nobel Prize was awarded for research on oxygen-related gene networks. Gregg Semenza, Peter Ratcliffe, William Kaelin elucidated details of reaction to hypoxia (lower concentration of oxygen), with the main role of HIF and VHL genes. Those basic discoveries pave the way to therapies changing gene expression in anemia and cancer.

It’s a system which is required for the body in order to function normally. Oxygen levels vary in different parts of the body tissues and organs, particularly during (an) exercise – the muscle during an exercise becomes anaerobic. This system works dually: both, makes cells cope during low oxygen levels, but it’s also (a) system that generates an opportunity for the cell to regain normal oxygen levels.


It’s an adaptation for cell metabolism to cope with oxygen, but also a system that increases blood vessel growth into the tissue, and also increases (a number of) red blood cells, that can now transport more oxygen.


This is such a basal, physiological mechanism that allows us to colonize the Earth, (its) different parts, different altitudes. (…) It’s also very important for diseases, such as anemia, cancer, heart attack, stroke, or other disorders where you have a reduction in blood supply and oxygen.


Really short: this is one of the critical, adaptive systems for animal life.

Nobel Prize Committee
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