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David Julius, Ardem Patapoutian win Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovery of temperature, touch receptors



The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to US-based scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.” 

The Nobel laureates’ discoveries have unlocked one of the secrets of nature by explaining the molecular basis for sensing heat, cold and mechanical force, which is fundamental for our ability to feel, interpret and interact with our internal and external environment.

Julius utilised capsaicin — a pungent compound from chili peppers that induces a burning sensation, to identify a sensor in the nerve endings of the skin that responds to heat, while Patapoutian used pressure-sensitive cells to discover a novel class of sensors that respond to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet said in a statement.

“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 statement added.

Julius is from the University of California, San Francisco and Patapoutian from Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Scripps Research in US.

The more than century-old prize is awarded by the Nobel Assembly of Sweden`s Karolinska Institute and is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.15 million).

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