LONDON (GN) Three scientists who discovered how cells sense and adapt to oxygen levels have won the 2019 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine.

Our body’s cells use oxygen to convert food into usable energy. The trio - William Kaelin, Sir Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza - discovered how cells adapt when oxygen levels drop.The Swedish Academy said their “elegant” findings were leading to treatments for anaemia and even cancer.

It said: “The fundamental importance of oxygen has been understood for centuries, but how cells adapt to changes in levels of oxygen has long been unknown.” Oxygen levels vary in different parts of the body - particularly during exercise. Sir Peter Ratcliffe is based at the Francis Crick Institute in the UK, William Kaelin, at Harvard in the US and Gregg Semenza at John Hopkins University in the US.