Nobel Prize in Medicine for David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for “the receptors of temperature and touch”

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

The findings of the two winners “have 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,” says the statement from the Swedish Academy of Sciences. .

The American David Julius, a physiologist at the University of California of 66 years, identified the sensor of nerve endings in the skin that respond to heat using capsaicin, a compound found in hot peppers.

Ardem Patapoutian – 54 years old – is an Armenian biologist and neuroscientist who grew up in Lebanon and is currently a US citizen. Patapoutian discovered the cellular sensors of the skin and also of the internal organs that respond to pressure.

Both researchers won the last edition of the Frontiers of Knowledge Award from the BBVA Foundation, endowed with 400. 000 euros.

The findings of these two scientists have been fundamental to understand 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 distinction went to the American scientists Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice as well as the British Michael Houghton for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus. Before the advances of Alter, Rice and Houghton, the hepatitis A and B viruses were known, but most of the cases originated for blood transfusions remained unexplained, according to the jury last year. “The discovery of the hepatitis C virus revealed the cause of the remaining chronic hepatitis cases and made it possible to test blood and develop new drugs that have saved millions of lives,” said the scientists from the Karolinska Institute.

The prize is endowed with nine million Swedish crowns, about 940. 000 euros. This award opens the round of announcements this week, which will continue on Tuesday with that of Physics, on Wednesday with that of Chemistry, on Thursday with that of Peace and, finally, that of Economics, which will be announced on Monday of the next week.

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