"Oxygen sensing is central to a large number of diseases," it said. "Intense ongoing efforts in academic laboratories and pharmaceutical companies are now focused on developing drugs that can interfere with different disease states by either activating, or blocking, the oxygen-sensing machinery." Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year.
The prizes for achievements in science, peace and literature have been awarded since 1901 and were created in the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel.
Nobel medicine laureates have included scientific greats such as Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, and Karl Landsteiner, who identified separate blood types and so enabled safe transfusions to be widely introduced.
Last year American James Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo won the prize for discoveries about how to harness the immune system in cancer therapies.
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