Story at a glance

  • Two U.S. scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for the field of physiology or medicine.
  • David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian were awarded the prize for their “discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.”
  • The discoveries are being used in research in attempts to find treatments for diseases, including chronic pain.

Two U.S. scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for the field of physiology or medicine.

The Nobel Assembly announced Monday that David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian were awarded the prize for their “discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.”

“Our ability to sense heat, cold and touch is essential for survival and underpins our interaction with the world around us,” the assembly said in a press 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 has been solved by this year’s Nobel Prize laureates.”


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Julius was able to use capsaicin, a component in chili peppers that induces the burning sensation, to isolate and identify a sensor in the skin’s nerve endings that responds to heat. Patapoutian was responsible for identifying a class of sensors in skin and internal organs that responds to mechanical stimulation.

“Intensive ongoing research originating from this year’s Nobel Prize awarded discoveries focusses on elucidating their functions in a variety of physiological processes,” the assembly said. “This knowledge is being used to develop treatments for a wide range of disease conditions, including chronic pain.”


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Published on Oct 04, 2021