Working cell receptors won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
U.S. researchers Robert J. Lefkowitz (Duke University Medical Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute) and Brian K. Kobilka (School of Medicine, Stanford University) won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to decipher the communication system that the body uses to sense the world around us, and send messages to cells (for example, the instruction heartbeat accelerate when there is danger).
The researchers will share the prize of SEK 8 million (USD $1.2 million).
Both scientists gave important knowledge about how cells work and how they respond to external stimuli. Before this work, it was known that adrenaline, for example, causes reactions as a more focused, faster breathing, diverting blood from less urgent systems. However, the adrenaline never enters cells. The theory was noted that a receiver detect shifts, however, no proof.
In the 1980s, Lefkowitz joined radioiodine to a hormone, to track their movement and explore the behavior of the receivers. After years of research, could prove that it was protein receptors, specific molecules.
Then Dr. Kobilka in postdoctoral research found the gene that produces this protein receptors. The genetic marker indicated that the shape of the extended coils that included protein were bound to the cell membrane. Was the same as another receptor that had been discovered in another part of the body – a light receiver in the retina.
Today there are around thousand of these receptors, known as “G protein-coupled receptors” that reside on the surface of cells and respond to hormones and neurotransmitters.
The knowledge on the shapes of the different receptors may improve the design of drugs to target more specifically the effect of the same, and not affect other receptors and cells which are not trying to direct the drug.
Link: 2 American Scientists Win Nobel Prize in Chemistry (NYTimes)Tags: Brian K., Chemistry, Chemistry Nobel, Kobilka, Lefkowitz, Nobel Prize, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Robert J.