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2021 Nobel Prize In Medicine: David Julius & Ardem Patapoutian's Receptors Discovery Wins

Scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian were jointly awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of receptors

in Psychology or Medicine

IMAGE: @NobelPrize/Twitter

Scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian on October 4 were jointly awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch. The award-giving body on Monday announced the recipients of the prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and is worth 10 million Swedish crowns or US$1.15 million. In a statement, the academy said that “Our ability to sense heat, cold and touch is essential for survival and underpins our interaction with the world around us.”

“In our daily lives we take these sensations for granted, but how are nerve impulses initiated so that temperature and pressure can be perceived? This question has been solved by this year’s Nobel Prize laureates,” it added.

The Swedish academy said that one of the awardees, Julius used capsaicin, which is a pungent compound from chilli peppers and includes a burning sensation for the identification of a sensor in the nerve endings of the skin that reacts to heat. Meanwhile, the official release added that Patapoutian utilised “pressure-sensitive cells to discover a novel class of sensors that respond to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs.”

“These breakthrough discoveries launched intense research activities leading to a rapid increase in our understanding of how our nervous system senses heat, cold, and mechanical stimuli. The laureates identified critical missing links in our understanding of the complex interplay between our senses and the environment,” the academy has said. 

Who won the same prize last year?

Last year, the Swedish Academy decided to award the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice “for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus.” All three recipients were given the honour for making the decisive contribution to the battle against blood-borne hepatitis which is also a “major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people across the globe."

IMAGE: @NobelPrize/Twitter

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