The Noble prize winner, a Japanese scientist, had studied the development of human cells. He discovered that cells are eating each other. Yoshinori Ohsumi received the Noble Prize for medicine and physiology this year. He is a scientist of the Tokyo Institute of Technology. He proved that human cells do not only dispose unnecessary parts, but also break them up and eat them.
- Yoshinori Ohsumi, the Noble prize winner, brought a significant contribution to medicine.
- Human cells are feeding on each other disposed material.
This process was named autophagy, coming from Greek and being translated as “eating of self.” The strange mechanism is more than just a simple biological fact. This discovery could help medicine develop even more. Scientists could use this fantastic information to help people get rid of terrible diseases. For example, if someone suffers from breast cancer or Parkinson, it means that this mechanism of self-eating cells has been impaired.
We have been aware of the fact that human cells divide, die and then are replaced again. What we did not know was that these microscopic beings tear apart pieces of themselves which are no longer useful, turning them into a more valuable material. It is crucial to underline the fact that cells don’t eat themselves dead. They just feed on the parts which are no longer viable.
When Then Guardian made public Yoshinori’s win, has described this outstanding process as “the body’s internal recycling program.” Firstly, a membrane starts developing inside the cell, surrounding the damaged parts that are to be consumed, like pathogens, proteins or damaged cell fractions. This membrane, also known as autophagosome, engulfs the damaged material. Secondly, this sewage goes into another sector of the cell which is occupied with enzymes ready to digest and tear apart the “meal.” After the digestive process ends, this substance could become useful for the creation of new material, until it can be eaten up and eliminated again.
Autophagy is a continuous mechanism that works all the time. Scientists have shown that this process can be impaired depending on everyone’s state of health and variation of the human body.
What a time to be alive, right? Doesn’t this scare you a little? All these scientific revolutionary discoveries make you think of yourself as a complex machine that could crack if something goes wrong. The truth is these thousand billions of cells that sustain your life are insignificant compared to the immensity of the universe. Still, for everybody, these cells mean the world.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia