"The Nobel Prize in Medicine this year reflects the importance of basic research,” explains the head of the Microtubule Organisation Lab at IRB Barcelona Jens Lüders to Materia. The North American scientists James Rothman and Randy Schekman and the German Thomas Südhof have been awarded this recognition for solving the mystery of how the cell organises its transport system, according to the Nobel Prize organisers at the Karolinska Instutute in Sweden.
Lüders compares the discovery with an underground train network. “The awardees have discovered how each passenger enters a carriage, how the passengers are distributed, the distance travelled by each one, and the type of mechanism they use to open the door at the right stop and to get to their final destination,” he explains. The work performed by the award winners “shows how research in cell biology directly affects our understanding of diseases at the molecular level,” states Lüders.
Lüders works in a field close to that of the awardees, namely that of microtubules, which can be likened to the “motorways” that, for example, neurons use to transport neurotransmitters. One of the branches of his work is to explore the defects in these communication pathways. Such defects are associated with most neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer disease.
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About IRB Barcelona
The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) pursues a society free of disease. To this end, it conducts multidisciplinary research of excellence to offer pioneering solutions to unresolved medical needs in cancer and other diseases related to ageing. It establishes technology transfer agreements with the pharmaceutical industry and major hospitals to bring research results closer to society and organises a range of science outreach activities to engage the public in an open dialogue. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 employees and more than 30 nationalities. Recognised as a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence since 2011, IRB Barcelona is a CERCA centre and member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).