Two US scientists win chemistry Nobel
Two Americans — Robert J Lefkowitz and Brian K Kobilka — shared this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry for deciphering the communication system that the human body uses to sense the outside world and send messages to cells.
Lefkowitz, 68, is a professor at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina and Kobilka, 57 is a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California.
Lefkowitz and Kobilka filled in a major gap in the understanding how cells work and respond to outside signals.
During the news conference at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Lefkowitz said, "It was a total shock and surprise as many before me have experienced."
"We hope by knowing the three-dimensional structure we might be able to develop more selective drugs and more effective drugs," Kobilka said.
What they did
They studied protein receptors that let body cells sense and respond to outside signals like increasing heartbeat when in danger. About 1,000 of these receptors — G-protein coupled receptors — reside on cell's surface and react to hormones and neuro-transmitters.
SIGNIFICANCE: Lefkowitz and Kobilka's study is key for developing better drugs. About half of all medications act on these receptors, including beta blockers and antihistamines, so learning about them will help scientists to come up with better drugs.
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