The research that won the Nobel Prize for Medicine



So, we’ve all seen that three scientists have won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their “discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability”.

The Nobel website says, “William G. Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza discovered how cells can sense and adapt to changing oxygen availability. They identified molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen.”

According to this guy quoted by the Nobel dude’s Twitter, this is a discovery that will make its way to biology textbooks of kids age 13 or below.

From my understanding, it seems to be a finding that oxygen, not just hormones, also regulates red blood cell production when your oxygen levels are low. I’m probably wrong (but they say on the internet if you want the right answer, you gotta post the wrong one first). This is why I request an ELI5. How will this change what we already have in our textbooks?

In: Biology

Basically there’s a genetic disease called Von Hippel Lindau where a tumor suppressor protein called VHL (normally prevents cell division) is mutated, leading to the development of some cancers. There’s also a protein called HIF (hypoxia inducible factor, i.e. Something that is made when there isn’t any oxygen) which will cause a bunch of protective proteins to be made when oxygen isn’t present. They essentially discovered the relationship between these two proteins and how VHL normally causes HIF to be degraded when oxygen is present