Two Americans, James Rothman and Randy Schekman, and Germany's Thomas Suedhof won the 2013 Nobel Prize for medicine or physiology for research into how the cell organizes its transport system, the award-giving body said on Monday.
The Nobel committee said the research deepened understanding of how disruptions in the transport of cells contribute to neurological diseases, diabetes and immunological disorders.
"Through their discoveries, Rothman, Schekman and Suedhof have revealed the exquisitely precise control system for the transport and delivery of cellular cargo," the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute said in a statement when awarding the prize of 8 million crowns ($1.2 million).
For example, 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.
Rothman is professor at Yale University, Schekman is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, while Suedhof is a professor at Stanford University.
"These beautiful discoveries have importance for the understanding of the human body and obviously implications for diseases in various organs such as the nervous system, diabetes and immune disorders," Jan-Inge Henter, professor of clinical child oncology at the Karolinska Institute, said at a news conference.
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.
Two senior Israeli scientists from the Faculty of Medicine of Hebrew University in Jerusalem had been among the contenders for the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
The Israeli contenders Professors Emeritus Howard Cedar, 70, and Aharon Razin, 78, are researchers in the field of biochemistry and together hold a long list of prizes, including among others the Israel Prize, Wolf Prize in Medicine. Cedar is the father of acclaimed Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar.
The two scientists shared the Wolf Prize in Medicine in 2008 for their breakthrough discovery in the field of genetics, DNA methylation, which is the mechanism that turns the expression of genes in the body on and off.
In their research, the pair also revealed enzymatic activity of higher level organisms and discovered bio-chemical process in the cell that enable the human body to read DNA.
Their research has added valuable knowledge to genetics research and constituted a breakthrough in the area of genetic diseases like Prader-Willi syndrome, Angelman syndrome and cancer.
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