STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN (OCTOBER 7, 2013) (REUTERS) - Americans James Rothman and Randy Schekman and Germany's Thomas Suedhof won the 2013 Nobel medicine prize on Monday (October 7) for their work on how hormones are transported within and outside cells, giving insight into diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer's.
The Nobel Committee said the work of the three scientists had great implications for neurological conditions as well as conditions affecting key organs.
"The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has today decided to award the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Suedhof for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells," said Goran Hansson, the Secretary of the Nobel Committee said when awarding the prize.
Their research sheds light on how insulin is manufactured and released into the blood at the right place at the right time, the Nobel committee said in the statement.
Their work centred on the 'vesicle' system by which cells take up nutrients, move substances around and release chemicals like hormones and growth factors.
"The 2013 Nobel prize honours three scientists who have solved the mystery of how the cell organises its transport system. The three Nobel laureates have discovered the molecular principles that govern how the molecular cargo is delivered with precision to the right place at the right time in the cell. Their discoveries have had a major impact to advance the understanding of the machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in the cell," Zierath said.
Jan-Inge Henter, a member of the Nobel committee and a professor of child oncology, said the scientists' achievements were important for the understanding of the human body and had implications for diseases in various organs such as the nervous system, diabetes and immune disorders.
"You know, we have a lot of molecules in the cell and within the cell there are certain rooms, like organals, and how does a protein know how to transport one cell from one room to another and when to leave that cell and the protein to leave the cell and these gentlemen have discovered how these proteins, these molecules, are moved around within the cell and how they leave the cell and how they know when to leave the cell," he said.
"It has relevance to many disorders like in the nervous system, in diabetes, in the immune regulation. For instance one example is tetanus. The tetanus bacteria they will destroy this vesicle system and based on that cause fatal diseases so that's one way. We know also that immune regulation also needs this vesicles to keep in balance, without these vesicles and without this system we would all die because of lack of immune regulation," he added.
Medicine is the first of the Nobel prizes awarded each year. Prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel.