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Scientists awarded Nobel Prize for research about temperature and touch


The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch” on Monday.

His work sheds light on how to reduce the chronic and acute pain associated with diseases, trauma, and their treatments.

“Our ability to sense heat, cold and touch is essential for survival and underpins our interactions with the world around us,” The Nobel Committee said in a news release. “In our daily lives we take these sensations lightly, but how are nerve impulses initiated to sense temperature and pressure?”

The committee said that this question has now been resolved.

The pair’s breakthrough discovery led to intense research activities that in turn rapidly increased our understanding of how our nervous system senses heat, cold, and mechanical stimuli. The award winners identify critical missing links in our understanding of the complex interplay between our senses and the environment.

Specifically, Mr. Julius used capsaicin, a pungent compound from chili peppers, to identify a sensor in the nerve endings of the skin that produces irritation, which responds to heat.

Mr. Patapoutian used pressure-sensitive cells to discover a new class of sensors that respond to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs.

The Nobel committee said the two scientists helped answer one of the most profound questions about the human condition: How do we make sense of our environment?

“The underlying mechanisms of our senses have triggered our curiosity for thousands of years, for example, how light is detected by the eyes, how sound waves affect our inner ears, and the various chemical compounds in our nose and mouth. with receptors in how they produce smell and taste,” the committee wrote.

In the 17th century, the philosopher René Descartes conceived of threads connecting different parts of the skin to the brain. Thus when the flame touches the foot a signal is sent to the brain. Later research found that sensory neurons register changes in our environment.

In 1944, joseph erlanger And Herbert Gasser Received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of different types of sensory nerve fibers that respond to different stimuli, for example, in response to painful and non-painful touch.

But a fundamental question remains. How are temperature and mechanical stimuli converted into electrical impulses in the nervous system?

The work of Mr. Julius and Mr. Patapoutian, for the first time, allows us to understand how heat, cold and mechanical forces can initiate nerve impulses that allow us to perceive and adapt to the world around us.

Their work has already inspired intensive research into the development of treatments for a wide range of diseases, including chronic pain, the committee said.

Dr. David Julius is Professor of Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco. In the 1990s, his research into the chemical compound capsaicin revolutionized the way scientists understood the burning sensation created by chili peppers. With a team of colleagues, they created a library containing millions of DNA fragments that are expressed in sensory neurons in response to pain, heat, and touch.

Ardem Patapoutian is a molecular biologist and neuroscientist at Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif., who “focuses on identifying and characterizing ion channels and other sensors that translate mechanical stimuli into chemical signals,” According to the website of the center.

He did his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology in 1996 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Southern California before joining the Scripps research team in 2000. He was nominated to the National Academy of Sciences in 2017, and was elected to the US in 2020. Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 2020, Dr. Julius and Dr. Patapoutian received Kavli Prize in Neuroscience, which is headed by the Norwegian government, for his groundbreaking discovery of proteins that help the body understand pressure.

Dr. Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice received the award for Hepatitis C virus discovery. The Nobel committee said the three scientists “made possible blood tests and new drugs that have saved millions of lives.”

  • There are two more science prizes. Physics will be announced on Tuesday and Chemistry will be announced in Stockholm on Wednesday.

  • The Prize in Literature will be announced in Stockholm on Thursday. read about Last year’s winner, Lewis Lucky.

  • The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in Oslo on Friday. Read about last year’s winner, world food program.

  • The Nobel in Economic Sciences will be announced in Stockholm on 11 October. Last year’s award was shared Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. wilson.



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