The first of this year's Nobel Prizes has been revealed, kicking off with the award for Physiology or Medicine.

Biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi, of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, was awarded the medicine prize for his discoveries in autophagy -- the process whereby a cell recycles part of its own contents.

helvetica="" neue",="" helvetica,="" arial,="" utkal,="" sans-serif;="" -webkit-font-smoothing:="" antialiased;="" font-size:="" 1.2rem;="" line-height:="" 1.66667;="" margin-right:="" 0px;="" color:="" rgb(38,="" 38,="" 38);="" background-color:="" rgb(254,="" 254,="" 254);"="">Scientists had been aware of autophagy since around the 1960s, but knew little about how it worked -- until Ohsumi's pioneering experiments with baker's yeast in the 1990s.
    It's important because autophagy can eliminate invading intracellular bacteria, and disrupted autophagy has been linked to Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and other disorders that particularly affect the elderly.
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