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Thomas Südhof, Randy Schekman and James Rothman won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for medicine on Monday.
The three won for research and work that resulted in insight into how substances are transported in cells The Associated Press reports. Their research into the cells' transport system is leading to a better understanding of how "cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time" inside of cells, the Nobel committee said.
The 64-year-old Schekman released a statement saying, "My first reaction was, 'Oh, my God!'" He added, "That was also my second reaction."
Schekman works at the University of California, Berkley, and Rothman is a professor at Yale University. German-born Südhof is associated with Stanford.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Schekman used yeast to help figure out the cell transport system inside of humans, due to the similarity in the mechanism between the two. The research shows such things as how pancreatic cells releases insulin and how other important cells communicate.
Illnesses, such as diabetes, occur when these transport and communication mechanisms don't work properly, and bacteria interrupts the processes.
In a statement, the Nobel committee said their research "shed new light on how disturbances in this machinery can have deleterious effects and contribute to conditions such as neurological diseases, diabetes and immunological disorders."
"Randy Schekman discovered a set of genes that were required for vesicle traffic. James Rothman unraveled protein machinery that allows vesicles to fuse with their targets to permit transfer of cargo. Thomas Südhof revealed how signals instruct vesicles to release their cargo with precision."