Two Americans, James Rothman and Randy Schekman, and Germany's Thomas Suedhof won the 2013 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology for research into how cells organise their transport system, the award-giving body said on Monday.
The Nobel committee said the research deepened understanding of how disruptions in the transport of cells contribute to neurological diseases, diabetes and immunological disorders.
"Through their discoveries, Rothman, Schekman and Suedhof have revealed the exquisitely precise control system for the transport and delivery of cellular cargo," the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute said in a statement when awarding the prize of 8 million crowns ($1.2 million).
For example, their research sheds light on how insulin is manufactured and released into the blood at the right place at the right time, the Nobel committee said in the statement.
Rothman is professor at Yale University, Schekman is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, while Suedhof is a professor at Stanford University.
"These beautiful discoveries have importance for the understanding of the human body and obviously implications for diseases in various organs such as the nervous system, diabetes and immune disorders," Jan-Inge Henter, professor of clinical child oncology at the Karolinska Institute, said at a news conference.
Medicine is the first of the Nobel prizes awarded each year. Prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel.