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Toriko Manga Helped Raise Awareness of 'Autophagy' Before Nobel Prize

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

The scientific term "autophagy" grabbed attention throughout the scientific community after Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine this year for his work. The Tokyo Institute of Technology professor won the prize for discovering and clearly explaining the process of autophagy. Autophagy is the process where cells degrade and recycle its own components.

The topic may have had low recognition among life scientists prior to Ohsumi's win, but Weekly Shōnen Jump readers were already familiar with the term thanks to the Toriko manga. Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro featured the term in chapter 50 of his manga. The ability is used to temporarily restore the protagonist's stamina by having his cells consume less vital parts of himself.

Other scientists, like professor Tamotsu Yoshimori of Osaka University, use the manga to explain the concept to junior high school students. Professor Noboru Mizushima of the University of Tokyo also used the manga as an example in his book Saibo ga Jibun o Taberu: Autophagy no Nazo (Cells Eat themselves: The Mystery of Autophagy).

Shueisha is honored Ohsumi's win and Shimabukuro's use of autophagy by offering chapters 48-50 to read for free last month.

Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun

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