US scientists Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka win chemistry Nobel
10 October 2012
American scientists Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka have won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their groundbreaking discoveries that revealed the inner workings of tiny receptors that enable cells to sense their environment and adapt to new situtations.
Their research showed how cells in the body respond to stimuli, such as a rush of adrenalin, increase in blood pressure or making the heart beat faster – a discovery that is helping the development of more effective drugs, the Nobel Prize committee said.
''Your body is a fine-tuned system of interactions between billions of cells. Each cell has tiny receptors that enable it to sense its environment, so it can adapt to new situtations. Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka are awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of an important family of such receptors: G-protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs),'' the Nobel Prize committee said in its release.
"Around half of all medications act through these receptors, among them beta blockers, antihistamines and various kinds of psychiatric medications," the committee said.
Working out better ways to target the receptors, known as GPCRs, is an area of keen focus for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
Using radio isotopes, Lefkowitz and his team of researchers extracted the adrenalin: ß-adrenergic receptoreceptor from its hiding place in the cell wall and gained an initial understanding of how it works.