Researchers Julius and Patapoutian awarded Nobel prize for discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch

Researchers Julius and Patapoutian awarded Nobel prize for discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute said. The award is "for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch".

Their work sheds light on how to reduce chronic and acute pain associated with a range of diseases, trauma and their treatments.

“Our ability to sense heat, cold and touch is essential for survival and underpins our interaction with the world around us,” the Nobel committee said in a news release. “In our daily lives we take these sensations for granted, but how are nerve impulses initiated so that temperature and pressure can be perceived?” This question, the committee said, has now been solved.

The pair made breakthrough discoveries that launched intense research activities that in turn led 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.

Specifically, Mr. Julius utilized 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.

Mr. Patapoutian used pressure-sensitive cells to discover a novel class of sensors that respond to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs, The New York Times reported.

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