Science
28.10.2019

Nobel Prize for Research on the Cellular Recycling Program

As always, this year’s Nobel Prizes were announced in October. In the natural science categories, prizes are awarded for scientific achievements of great importance to humanity. As is so often the case, these discoveries and the people behind them are unfortunately forgotten too quickly in the media.

Therefore, we would like to introduce Yoshinori Ohsumi. The Japanese cell biologist was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2016 for his contributions to the broader understanding of autophagy.

Ohsumi was the first scientist able to prove how cells activate the evolutionary process of autophagy when they “starve”. Following a calorie restriction of 14 hours or more, the so-called autophagic process is initiated in which damaged cell organelles are covered by a membrane and “digested”. As a result, aged cells not only regain their full functional capacity, “self-consumption” also produces additional energy available to the organism. Thus, aged cells at the end of their life cycle, can delay the imminent cell death through this “recycling program” by restoring their functionality.

These findings have found their way into aging research in particular and significantly contributed to a completely new understanding of the human aging processes.

“I am deeply moved by the interest that has been shown in autophagy research, which for me has represented an incredible journey over the last 28 years. It’s my greatest pleasure and honor as a basic scientist if our work was able to trigger a development in our understanding of life. I await the continued development of the field over the years to come with great anticipation.”

Autophagy and its role in the aging processes

Autophagy plays an important role in all organisms. It ensures a sensitive, balanced equilibrium between formation and degradation of proteins in a given nutrient supply.

During autophagy, harmful substances are digested, such as clogged proteins in nerve cells thought to be responsible for Alzheimer’s or dementia. When autophagy can no longer be activated, the cell ages and apoptosis – cell death – occurs.

Based on these findings, mouse studies have shown that animals which have to survive longer periods without food age more slowly and healthily than those that are fed more abundantly. This has been demonstrated very clearly in the neuron and brain area.

Short biography

Yoshinori Ohsumi was born in 1945 in Fukuoka (Japan). He had originally started studying chemistry, but soon switched to molecular biology. He went to Rockefeller University in New York, and later conducted research at the University of Tokyo. In 1996 he became professor at the National Institute for Basic Biology in Okazaki and in 2004 professor at the Graduate University for Advanced Studies in Hayama. In 2009 he retired and took a professorship at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Ohsumi is a recipient of numerous awards for his research and has been cited in a large number of renowned journals.

 

Most important publications
Takeshige, K., Baba, M., Tsuboi, S., Noda, T. and Ohsumi, Y. (1992). Autophagy in yeast demonstrated with proteinase-deficient mutants and conditions for its induction. Journal of Cell Biology 119, 301-311
Tsukada, M. and Ohsumi, Y. (1993). Isolation and characterization of autophagy-defective mutants of Saccharomyces cervisiae. FEBS Letters 333, 169-174
Mizushima, N., Noda, T., Yoshimori, T., Tanaka, Y., Ishii, T., George, M.D., Klionsky, D.J., Ohsumi, M. and Ohsumi, Y. (1998). A protein conjugation system essential for autophagy. Nature 395, 395-398
Ichimura, Y., Kirisako T., Takao, T., Satomi, Y., Shimonishi, Y., Ishihara, N., Mizushima, N., Tanida, I., Kominami, E., Ohsumi, M., Noda, T. and Ohsumi, Y. (2000). A ubiquitin-like system mediates protein lipidation. Nature, 408, 488-492
Nico Teuschler

Research & Development Manager

Related Posts

Das vegetative Nervensystem
Science
22.09.2021
The vegetative nervous system: How our cells react to the environment
What happens in our bodies when we get tired or sweat? How does it regulate blood pressure, heart rate, or our breathing? Our vegetative nervous system is responsible for involuntary changes in our cells.
Den Hippocampus stärken
Science
22.09.2021
The hippocampus: Why we need it and how we strengthen it
Our hippocampus is the part of our brain which is responsible for our memory, orientation, and even our emotions! But with increasing age and because of different diseases it can lose some of its functions. Here you can learn more about how you can exercise it!
Fünf Tipps, um Demenz vorzubeugen
Science
06.05.2021
Five tips for preventing dementia
The risk of developing a form of dementia increases with age. Symptoms often develop gradually and remain unnoticed for a long time until an official diagnosis is made.
CelVio Complex
Science
03.03.2021
Question: What is the CelVio Complex all about?
The CelVio Complex is the heart of our spermidineLIFE®️ innovations. Cel is for "Cella" (the cell) and Vio for "going or traveling" meaning the path or life cycle of the cell. But what is so special about our CelVio Complex?
Mikrobiota
Science
17.02.2021
The Macro Influence of Our Skin and Gut Microbiota
The name of the microbiota—of our skin and gut flora—may seem misleading since it actually has a major influence on the aging process of our cells. What can you do to protect your cells? We’ll tell you.
Autophagie auslösen
Science
19.12.2020
Autophagy and Its Triggers—Supporting Our Body’s Own Cell Recycling Program
Nature is good at recycling waste products. So is our body. It has its very own program for our cells: autophagy. It reuses the waste of our cells and makes sure that old cells renew themselves. Autophagic activity decreases as we age—but we can support our body's recycling program with targeted measures.
Anti aging
Science
19.07.2020
Anti-Aging Research Is Booming: Will We Live to 150 Soon?
Anti-aging medicine is considered one of the up-and-coming research topics of our time. International research teams have uncovered interesting results about our cells and their aging process in recent years. We collected some impressions.
Science
28.10.2019
Nobel Prize for Research on the Cellular Recycling Program
Japanese cell biologist and Nobel Prize laureate Yoshinori Ohsumi on his research contributing to an extended understanding of autophagy.