If you focus on the same name of this important process, it concerns the digestion through the cell dead elements of its structure (from the Greek autós – it-yourself, phageín – is). In fact, has a very deep meaning for our health. Autofagia has, for an important role in fighting infection, affects our immune system, contributes to the development of embryos, inhibits the processes of cancer cells (though in some extent they may also contribute).
50 years ago, scientists knew that cells can destroy their own structures as if they are eating that is reminiscent of fashion today processing. However, only Yoshinori Ohsumi in the 90-ies., after a series of brilliant experiments involving yeast genes were identified that are important for autophagy. His discoveries have helped scientists understand how cells are such internal processing. And how violation of these genes can lead to disease, cancer, neurological and what is the adaptation in case of famine or stress.
Ohsumi almost completely explained by this mechanism, arguing that our life really depends on what happens at the cellular level. Not always we understand that, although in the last 50 years, twice the winners of “medical Nobel” scientists were highly valued for their contribution to the knowledge of autophagy (Belgian Christian de Duve in 1974. for the discovery of lysosomes and also in 2004. the discovery of the process of protein degradation).
Currently, even some medications being developed with the idea about the purpose of autofagia, as disturbances occur outside of a cancer in such diseases as Parkinson’s or diabetes. Cells use the mechanism of autophagy to remove damaged proteins, that has applications in counter the negative effects of aging.
in Fact, it seemed that autofagia so universal, and at the same time, well-received process that is hard to find any more riddles – even though it continues to fascinate researchers, who put all new and new questions. Features of digestion of the individual components of the cells and their degradation are folding factors, primarily that can help in the further development of medicine.
Although, the winner of the current Prize modestly says of himself: “I’m only a scientist, from simple tests on the yeast”.