Two Americans and a Briton won the 2019 Nobel Medicine Prize on Monday for discovering a molecular switch that regulates how cells adapt to fluctuating oxygen levels, opening up new approaches to treating heart failure, anaemia and cancer.

William Kaelin at the U.S. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School said he was overwhelmed to get a pre-dawn call to say he and two other doctors, Gregg Semenza of Johns Hopkins University and Peter Ratcliffe of Oxford University, had won the 9-million Swedish-crown ($913,000) prize.

“I don’t usually get phone calls at 5 a.m., but I knew this was ‘Nobel Monday’, so it was either going to be a poorly timed mobile call or extremely good news,” he told Reuters by telephone. “My heart started racing. It was almost surreal.”

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