Three win Nobel Prize in medicine

STOCKHOLM – Americans James Rothman and Randy Schekman

and German-born researcher Thomas Suedhof won the 2013 Nobel

Prize in medicine today for discoveries on how hormones, enzymes

and other key substances are transported within cells.

The Nobel Committee said the three’s research on “vesicle

traffic” – the transport system of our cells – helped scientists

understand how “cargo is delivered to the right place at the right

time” inside cells.

Disturbances to the system may contribute to diabetes and

neurological and immunological disorders, the committee said.

Rothman, 62, is a professor at Yale University, while Schekman,

64, is at the University of California, Berkeley. Suedhof, 57, joined

Stanford University in 2008.

“My first reaction was, Oh, my God!” said Schekman in a

statement released by Berkeley. “That was also my second reaction.”

The university said Schekman’s research led to the success of the

biotechnology industry. Schekman studied normal and defective yeast

to identify the process of vesicle transport, the university said.

The Nobel Committee said Schekman discovered a set of genes

that were required for vesicle transport, while Rothman revealed

how proteins docked with their target membranes like two sides of a

zipper. Sudhof found out how vesicles released their cargo

with precision.

“These discoveries have had a major impact on our understanding

of how cargo is delivered with timing and precision within and

outside the cell,” the committee said.

Rothman and Schekman won the Albert Lasker Basic

Medical Research Award for their research in 2002 – an award

often seen as a precursor of a Nobel Prize.

The medicine prize kicked off this year’s Nobel announcements.

The awards in physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics

will be announced by other prize juries this week and next. Each

prize is worth eight million Swedish kronor (BDS$2.4 million). (AP)

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