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    A portrait of the 2016 Nobel Medicine Prize winner Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan is displayed behind members of the Nobel Committtee for Physiology or Medicine 2016 during a press conference to announce the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Medicine at the Nobel Forum in Stockholm on October 3, 2016.

    Japanese Cell Biologist Ohsumi Awarded 2016 Nobel Prize in Medicine

    © AFP 2017/ JONATHAN NACKSTRAND
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    Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi was awarded Monday the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The prize was awarded for Ohsumi’s "discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy," the statement read.

    "His discoveries opened the path to understanding the fundamental importance of autophagy in many physiological processes, such as in the adaptation to starvation or response to infection. Mutations in autophagy genes can cause disease, and the autophagic process is involved in several conditions including cancer and neurological disease," the statement added.

    Ohsumi, born in 1945, is currently a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and focused on molecular biology when he was getting his first degree at the University of Tokyo. In the 1980s he began studying baker's yeast which led to a number of experiments uncovering the mechanisms of autophagy, a process of which until then very little had been known.

    Autophagy is a process of cell destruction, which helps an organism respond to nutrient stress and removes damaged cell elements. Cancer researches are trying to pinpoint the process's role in battling cancer and whether it might be used as a tumor suppressor.

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