Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
Cell discovery wins Nobel medicine prize
Dr Gunter Blobel has won the Nobel Prize for Medicine
Dr Guenter Blobel of Rockefeller University in New York has been awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine for his research on proteins that could lead to new treatments for hereditary diseases.
The Swedish academy praised Dr Blobel for discovering how proteins are transported within the human cell, work that could help to unlock the secrets of diseases such as cystic fibrosis.
In a statement, the committee said: "Dr Blobel's research has helped explain the molecular mechanism behind several genetic diseases.
"Dr Blobel's research has also contributed to the development of a more effective use of cells as 'protein factories' for the production of important drugs."
Dr Blobel's work has made it possible to identify the signals which direct proteins to different parts of a cell, just as address tags on suitcases ensure luggage arrives at the right airport.
The Nobel Assembly said Dr Blobel's work had several important implications.
"One example is the hereditary disease primary hyperoxaluria, which causes kidney stones at an early age.
"Other hereditary diseases, e.g., cystic fibrosis, are caused by the fact that proteins do not reach their proper destination."
Dr Blobel, a cellular and molecular biologist, discovered in the early 1970s that newly synthesized proteins have an intrinsic signal that is essential for directing them.
His work in the following 20 years concentrated on uncovering the detail underlying these processes.
Dr Blobel was born in pre-war Germany in the Silesian town of Waltersdorf, but is now an American citizen.
The Nobe Prize for Medicine is worth nearly $1m.