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Nobel Prize in medicine goes to scientists who uncover how our cells use oxygen

The discovery could mean new treatments for diseases.

Nobel Prize

Three scientists win the 2019 Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine.

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/ Getty Images

Three scientists, two American and one British, won the 2019 Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine for discovering how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. The findings could lead to new strategies to fight anemia, cancer and many other diseases. 

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute on Monday awarded the joint prize to William G. Kaelin, Jr. of Harvard University, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe of Oxford University and Gregg L. Semenza of Johns Hopkins University. 

The team identified molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen, according to the Nobel Assembly. The researchers established the basis of understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological function, and are trying to develop new drugs that can either prevent or activate the oxygen-regulated machinery. 

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