WorldNobel Prize in Medicine awards David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for “receivers...

Nobel Prize in Medicine awards David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for “receivers of temperature and touch”

The jury at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine on Monday to David Julius and Arden Patapoutian for “their discovery of temperature and touch receptors”.

The discoveries of the two winners “allowed us to understand how heat, cold and mechanical force can generate nerve impulses that allow us to perceive the world around us and adapt to it”, states the communiqué from the Swedish Academy of Sciences.

American David Julius, 66, a physiologist at the University of California, used capsaicin, a compound in hot peppers, to identify the sensor of nerve endings in the skin that respond to heat.

Ardem Patapoutian, 54, is an Armenian biologist and neuroscientist raised in Lebanon and currently a US citizen. He discovered the cellular sensors in the skin and also in the internal organs that respond to pressure.

The researchers had already won the last edition of the Frontiers of Knowledge Award, from the BBVA Foundation in Spain, endowed with 400,000 euros (2.15 million reais).

The discoveries of these two scientists were fundamental to understanding how heat, cold and touch generate signals in the nervous system and have important applications in the treatment of pain and many diseases.

Last year, the award was given to North American scientists Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice, as well as to Briton Michael Houghton, for discovering the hepatitis C virus. Before Alter’s advances, Rice and Houghton knew Hepatitis A and B viruses were taken, but most cases caused by blood transfusions remained unexplained, as the jury pointed out last year. “The discovery of the hepatitis C virus revealed the cause of the remaining chronic hepatitis cases and made it possible to analyze the blood and develop new drugs that saved millions of lives,” said the scientists at the Karolinska Institute.

The prize is endowed with nine million Swedish kronor (5.52 million reais). The announcement opens this year’s round of announcements, which continues on Tuesday with the Physics award, on Wednesday with Chemistry, on Thursday with Literature, on Friday with Peace and, finally, the Economics one, to be announced on Monday of next week.

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