Two Americans win Nobel Prize in medicine for their sensory discoveries

  • Americans Julius and Patapoutian win Nobel Prize in medicine
  • Discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch recognized
  • Discoveries could pave the way for new pain relievers

STOCKHOLM, Oct. 4 (Reuters) – US scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Medicine on Monday for their discoveries of temperature and touch receptors that the winning body said could pave the way for new pain relievers.

Their findings “have enabled us to understand how heat, cold and mechanical force can initiate the nerve impulses that allow us to perceive and adapt to the world around us,” said the Nobel Assembly of the Karolinska Institute. from Sweden.

“This knowledge is being used to develop treatments for a wide range of diseases, including chronic pain.”

The groundbreaking discoveries, made independently of each other, had initiated intense research activities that had led to “a rapid increase in our understanding of how our nervous system detects heat, cold and mechanical stimuli”, a- he declared.

The more than century-old prize is worth 10 million Swedish kronor ($ 1.15 million).

The prestigious Nobel Prizes, for achievements in the fields of science, literature and peace, were created and funded by the will of Swedish inventor and dynamite businessman Alfred Nobel. They have been awarded since 1901, the economics prize being awarded for the first time in 1969.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, shared equally this year by the two laureates, often lives in the shadow of the Nobel Prize for Literature and Peace, and their sometimes more famous recipients.

But medicine has been put in the spotlight by the COVID-19 pandemic, and some scientists have suggested that those who have developed coronavirus vaccines could be rewarded this year or in the years to come.


The 2021 winners were caught off guard, according to the committee.

“They were incredibly happy and, as far as I know, very surprised and a little shocked,” said Professor Thomas Perlmann, secretary general of the Nobel Assembly and the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine.

The pandemic continues to haunt Nobel ceremonies, which are usually full of old world pomp and glamor. The banquet in Stockholm has been postponed for a second year in a row due to lingering concerns about the virus and international travel. Read more

Patapoutian, who was born in 1967 to Armenian parents in Lebanon and moved to Los Angeles in his youth, is a professor at Scripps Research, La Jolla, California, having conducted research at the University of California, San Francisco, and at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

He is credited with discovering the cellular mechanism and the underlying gene that translates a mechanical force on our skin into an electrical nerve signal.

New York-born Julius, 65, is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, having previously worked at Columbia University, New York.

His findings on the sense of skin temperature were based on the reaction of certain cells to capsaicin, the molecule that makes peppers spicy by simulating a false sensation of heat.

($ 1 = 8.7272 Swedish kronor)

Ludwig Burger reported from Frankfurt, Additional reporting Terje Solsvik in Oslo and by Niklas Pollard, Simon Johnson, Supantha Mukherjee and Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm, edited by Timothy Heritage

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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