Dr. Gregg L. Semenza- Paving the way to curing Cancer.

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Dr. Gregg L. Semenza has been a resident of the John Hopkins University School of Medicine as a professor of paediatrics, radiation oncology and molecular radiation sciences, biological chemistry, medicine, and oncology. Most recently, Dr. Gregg has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for his contribution to the medical world.

As we all know, oxygen plays a key role in the functioning of all living organisms. The regulation of the oxygen supply and the consequent reaction of the body to counter low levels of oxygen in the blood stream was studied by Dr. Gregg Semenza during his tenure at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. While studying these reactions, Gregg discovered the HIF-1 (hypoxia-inducible factor 1) protein which plays a key role in controlling the body?s response to oxygen availability. One of the primary responses to the above mentioned ?hypoxia? is the rise in levels of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO), which leads to increased production of red blood cells (erythropoiesis). Under normal conditions, this HIF-1 protein is rapidly degraded. However, when the body is experiencing low levels of oxygen, this HIF-1 protein produces increased EPO. The functioning of this HIF-1 protein is heavily dependant on the presence of a hereditary gene called the von Hippel-Lindau?s gene, commonly known as the VHL gene. This VHL gene expressed abnormally high levels of hypoxia-regulated genes.

Through his research, Dr.Gregg Semenza, has discovered the oxygen sensing machinery. Oxygen sensing not only controls our immune system and many other physiological functions but is also essential during fetal development for controlling normal blood vessel formation and placenta development. Therefore, oxygen sensing is related to an array of diseases as it is linked to the decreased production of EPO. This EPO is essential for red blood cell production. In the absence of it, the body is unable to metabolise for effective proliferation of cancer cells. Therefore, through his research and studies Dr. Semenza has understood and enabled how to treat various coronary diseases, tumor growths and cancer as being linked to a disturbance in the oxygen sensing mechanism


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