Nobel Prize for Medicine

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    • Recently, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2021 was awarded jointly to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.

    Why were they awarded?

    Image Courtesy: TH

    • Julius discovered TRPV1, a heat-sensing receptor, while Patapoutian discovered two mechanosensitive ion channels known as the Piezo channels.
      • In 1997, Dr Julius and his team published a paper in Nature detailing how capsaicin, or the chemical compound in chilli peppers, causes the burning sensation. 
      • They created a library of DNA fragments to understand the corresponding genes and finally discovered a new capsaicin receptor and named it TRPV1. This discovery paved the way for the identification of many other temperature-sensing receptors.

    • Both David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian identified another new receptor called TRPM8, a receptor that is activated by cold. 
      • A paper published in Cell in 2002 by Dr. Patapoutian and team explains that this new receptor is specifically expressed in a subset of pain-and-temperature-sensing neurons.
      • Ardem Patapoutian further studied if these receptors can be activated by mechanical stimuli. 
      • His team poked cells with a micropipette and identified a cell line that produced an electric signal in response. 
      • They identified a single gene, which when silenced made the cells insensitive to the poking. 
        • They named this new mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo1.

    Significance: 

    • This knowledge [of the TRPV1, TRPM8 and Piezo channels] is being used to develop treatments for a wide range of disease conditions, including chronic pain.

    Nobel Prize 

    • On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace – the Nobel Prizes. 
      • In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden’s central bank) established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
    • It was first awarded in 1901.
    • It is an international award administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, and based on the fortune of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor and entrepreneur.

    Source: DTE