New treatment options for anaemia and cancer

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Nobel Prize Research
New treatment options for
anaemia and cancer

The Physiological Society has congratulated Nobel Prize winners William G. Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza who have been awarded the Nobel Prize for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. While the fundamental importance of oxygen has been understood for centuries, this research focuses on understanding how cells adapt to changes in levels of oxygen. Sir Peter Ratcliffe is a former Editor of Journal of Physiology, a journal published by The Physiological Society.

Responding to the Nobel Prize announcement, President of The Physiological Society, Bridget Lumb, said: “This year’s Nobel Prize puts physiology front and centre. It shines a light on the vital research carried out by physiologists. “Cutting edge physiological research such as this is improving our understanding of how our bodies work and thereby helping keep us healthy. “Thanks to this research we know much more about how different levels of oxygen impact on physiological processes in our bodies. This has huge implications for everything from recovery from injury and protection from disease, through to improving exercise performance.”

Professor Cormac Taylor of University College Dublin’s Conway Institute, commented that “Our evolution has depended on our ability to use oxygen to make energy and to adapt when oxygen levels are low. “Humans require a constant supply of oxygen to live, but we often encounter situations where the amount of oxygen we have is low. This is the case for extreme situations, such as mountain climbers, but is also faced by people with diseases such as cancer or anaemia.

“The discovery of the HIF pathway answered the question about how our cells adapt to low oxygen and allow cells, tissues and whole bodies to adapt. This is a key and vital piece of understanding the physiology of how our bodies work. “Targeting the pathways identified by this research opens up new treatment options for people with diseases such as anaemia or cancer.”

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