Nobel Prize For Physiology Or Medicine:
American scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian have won the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.
- Julius has been studying the different compounds in chili peppers and spider venom to understand how our bodies sense heat and chemical irritants. Decoding the neuroscience of pain can help develop new targets for pain therapy.
- 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.
- Patapoutian helped discover a novel class of sensors in our skin and internal organs that respond to cold and other mechanical stimuli.
- Independently of one another, 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 and his team identified a single gene, which when silenced made the cells insensitive to the poking.
- They named this new mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo1.