Paabo has spearheaded the development of new techniques that allowed researchers to compare the genome of modern humans and that of other hominins — the Neanderthals and Denisovans.

Paabo, 67, who takes home the award sum of 10 million Swedish kronor ($901,500)
Paabo, 67, who takes home the award sum of 10 million Swedish kronor ($901,500) (AP Archive)

Swedish paleogeneticist Svante Paabo, who sequenced the genome of the Neanderthal and discovered the previously unknown hominin Denisova, has won the Nobel Medicine Prize.

"By revealing genetic differences that distinguish all living humans from extinct hominins, his discoveries provide the basis for exploring what makes us uniquely human", the Nobel committee said in a statement on Monday.

Paabo, director of the department of genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, found that gene transfer had occurred from now-extinct hominins to Homo sapiens following the migration out of Africa around 70,000 years ago.

"This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, for example affecting how our immune system reacts to infections," the jury said.

Covid-19 patients with a snippet of Neanderthal DNA run a higher risk of severe complications from the disease, Paabo reported in a 2020 study.

Paabo, 67, who takes home the award sum of 10 million Swedish kronor ($901,500), will receive the prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of scientist Alfred Nobel, who created the prizes in his last will and testament.

Last year, the Medicine Prize went to US pair David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for discoveries on receptors for temperature and touch, which have been used to develop treatments for a wide range of diseases and conditions, including chronic pain.

Nobel week

The Nobel season continues this week with the announcement of the winners of the Physics Prize on Tuesday and the Chemistry Prize on Wednesday.

They will be followed by the much-anticipated prizes for Literature on Thursday and Peace on Friday, while the Economics Prize winds things up on Monday (October 10).

For the Literature Prize on Thursday, literary critics told AFP they thought the Swedish Academy may go for a more mainstream author this year, after selecting lesser-known writers the past two years.

Last year, Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah won, while US poet Louise Gluck was crowned in 2020.

But it is the Peace Prize that is expected to hold special significance this year amid the Russian offensive against Ukraine.

Last year, Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov won the prize together with his Philippine colleague Maria Ressa in the name of freedom of expression.

READ MORE: Two US scientists win Nobel Prize for Medicine

Source: TRTWorld and agencies