According to the Nobel Committee’s website, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2021 was given to American scientists David Julius and Ardem Pataputian “for the discovery of temperature and touch receptors.”
“Our capacity to detect warmth, cold, and touch is critical to our survival and is central to our interactions with the world around us. We take these sensations for granted in daily life, but how are nerve impulses activated so that we can sense warmth and pressure? The committee said in a news statement that “this matter was settled by this year’s Nobel Prize winners.”
Julius utilized the alkaloid capsaicin, which is present in chili peppers and produces a burning sensation, in his study. Using this chemical, the scientist discovered a heat-responsive receptor in skin nerve endings.
Pataputyan discovered a novel class of sensors that react to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs by using “pressure-sensitive cells.” The information they gathered will be utilized to create therapies for a variety of illnesses, including chronic pain.
The Nobel Committee stated that this scientists’ discovery was “breakthrough” and marked the start of intense research efforts that led to a fast expansion of knowledge of how the human nervous system senses heat, cold, and mechanical stimuli.
The committee said, “The laureates have discovered crucial missing connections in our knowledge of the intricate interplay between our emotions and our environment.”
Last year, Harvey Alter (USA), Michael Houghton (UK), and Charles Rice (USA) were given the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the hepatitis C virus, which led to the development of breakthrough medicines that saved millions of lives.