London [UK], Oct. 3 : Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi has been named the 2016 Nobel laureate for his discoveries on how the body's cells detoxify and repair themselves.
The Japanese cell biologist will receive the prestigious eight million Swedish kronor (718,000) award for "mechanisms for autophagy", reports the Guardian.
Autophagy is the body's internal recycling program - scrap cells are hunted down and the useful parts are stripped out to generate energy or create new cells.
It is a crucial process to prevent cancerous growths, and, by maintaining a healthy metabolism, helps protect against conditions like diabetes.
Disturbances in the autophagy mechanism have been linked to many fatal diseases like the Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and several age-related disorders.
Mutations in autophagy genes can cause genetic disease. Intense research is now underway to develop drugs that can target autophagy in various diseases. In a series of ground-breaking experiments in the early 1990s, Yoshinori Ohsumi used baker's yeast to identify genes essential for autophagy.
He then went on to elucidate the underlying mechanisms for autophagy in yeast and showed that similar sophisticated machinery is used in human cells.
Last year, the prize was shared by three scientists for discoveries that helped doctors fight malaria and infections caused by roundworm parasites.