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2019 The Nobel Prize in Medicine

The winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Photo by the official Nobel Prize website.

2019 the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to William G. Kaelin Jr., Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza for discovers how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. Their work established the genetic mechanisms that allow cells to respond to changes in oxygen levels. Their discoveries have paved the way for treating a variety of diseases, including cancer, anemia, heart attacks, and many other diseases.

The awarded mechanism for oxygen sensing has fundamental importance in physiology. Intensive efforts are ongoing to develop new drugs. Photo by the official Nobel Prize website.

“Oxygen is the lifeblood of living organisms,” said Dr. George Daley, dean of Harvard Medical School. “Without oxygen, cells can’t survive.” In this case, we could know that oxygen is essential for animal life because it could convert food into useful energy. However, how cells adapt to changes in levels of oxygen has been unknown.

Generally speaking, cells cannot live without oxygen. All the air-breathing organisms on Earth have developed ways to ensure their cells get the amount of oxygen they need. For instance, we could produce more red bold cells to accommodate the scarcity of air in high altitudes. Therefore, human bodies have developed a couple of ways to monitor and respond to changes in oxygen levels. Back to the previous example, when our oxygen is not enough, our body will produce more oxygen-carrying cells to maximize the delivery of oxygen. The production of these oxygen-carrying cells is triggered by the production of erythropoietin( EPO). EPO is the Novel winners explored. In addition to this, they also found a complex — Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF). When oxygen levels are high, cells contain very little HIF-1α. However, when oxygen levels are low, the amount of HIF-1α increases. Due to an oxygen-related reduction in the effect of ubiquitin, a peptide that normally would bind with and quickly decay HIF-1α. The discovery of this mechanism is of significance in the field of medicine.

According to Social studio media analysis, the overall volume of Nobel prize in medicine was 1k with 94.2% of post coming from Twitter. The top three influencers of this topic were Time, France 24, and NYT Health. The conversation volume reaches its peak on Oct. 7th, which make sense as the prize was rewarded on that day.

Post volume and Influencers of the topic. Photo by the Social Studio.

In terms of words made by the social studio to describe this topic, it is not surprising that most words are related to the Nobel Prize in Medicine: Nobel, cells, oxygen, scientists, and availability.