Nobel Prize honors US scientists David Julius, Ardem Patapoutian for discovery of temperature, touch receptors

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Nobel Prize honors US scientists David Julius, Ardem Patapoutian for discovery of temperature, touch receptors

STOCKHOLM — The Nobel Prize in the field of physiology or medicine has been awarded to U.S.-based scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian.

They were cited for their discovery of receptors for temperature and touch.

The winners were announced Monday by Thomas Perlmann, secretary-general of the Nobel Committee.

Patrik Ernfors of the Nobel Committee said Julius, 65, used capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers, to identify the nerve sensors that allow the skin to respond to heat.

Patapoutian found separate pressure-sensitive sensors in cells that respond to mechanical stimulation, he said.

“This really unlocks one of the secrets of nature,” said Perlmann. “It’s actually something that is crucial for our survival, so it’s a very important and profound discovery.”

Nobel Committee member Patrik Ernfors, right, explains the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine during a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
Nobel Committee member Patrik Ernfors, right, explains the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine during a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
AP

The pair also shared the prestigious Kavli Award for Neuroscience last year.

Last year’s Nobel medicine prize went to three scientists who discovered the liver-ravaging hepatitis C virus, a breakthrough that led to cures for the deadly disease and tests to keep the scourge from spreading though blood banks.

The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (over $1.14 million). The prize money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.

The prize is the first to be awarded this year. The other prizes are for outstanding work in the fields of physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics.

David Julius was one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medecine.
David Julius was one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medecine.
Peter Barreras/Invision/AP

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