Recently, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medical Sciences for the year 2021 has been announced.
American scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian have been selected for this year’s prestigious Nobel Prize in Medical Sciences. Two researchers who discovered the molecular basis for our ability to sense temperature and touch have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
They have identified the mechanism through which tactile sensors communicate with the nervous system to recognize and respond to a particular touch.
In the human body, not all molecules are sensitive to heat or mechanical pressure. Only very specific molecules are like this and it is their job to transmit these signals to the nervous system. After receiving the signal, the nervous system responds appropriately.
David Julius used capsaicin, a pungent compound of peppers, to identify a sensor (named TRPV-1) in the nerve endings of the skin that cause irritation. It is known that this nerve ending itself shows its response to heat.
Ardem Patapoutian used pressure-sensitive cells to discover a new class of sensors, Piezo1 and Piezo2. It is noteworthy that these two classes respond to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs.
They both also identified TRPM8. It is a receptor, which is activated in low temperature (ie cold).
The identification of these receptors opens up the possibility of regulating their functioning. For example: Sufferers may be suppressed to minimize the long-term pain resulting from various diseases and disorders.
Source – The Hindu