Nobel Prize for Medicine for Discoverers of Temperature and Touch Receptors

The Nobel Assembly of the Karolinska Institute of Stockholm has distinguished with the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology to David Julius and ARDEM Patapou

Nobel Prize for Medicine for Discoverers of Temperature and Touch Receptors

The Nobel Assembly of the Karolinska Institute of Stockholm has distinguished with the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology to David Julius and ARDEM Patapoutian for its discoveries of "temperature and touch receivers".

How do we not notice if a cup of coffee is too hot? Or if the day has become cold and would be better for us to get a sweater? Or that the soil we walked is slippery and we should be careful?

Our senses help us adapt to changes in the environment. Our ability to feel heat, cold, contact with an object or pain is fundamental for our survival, determines our interactions.

David Julius (New York, US, 1955) and ARDEM Patapoutian (Beirut, Lebanon, 1967) unraveled the molecular mechanisms that are behind that ability to identify changes in temperature and tact, discovered what receivers directly take information to our Brain and allow us to adapt. And that's why they have just been awarded with the Nobel. Both researchers also received the border of knowledge in Biology and Biomedicine of the BBVA Foundation.

Intrigued by the effects of some food, David Julius began studying at the end of the 90s at the University of California, how it was captured, the chemical component more characteristic of chilli, causing that feeling of burning and itching in the mouth.

Until then, it was known that that chemist was responsible for the spicy sensation, but not what the mechanisms that made it possible.

First, the Julius team identified the gene responsible for making cells sensitive to capsaicin and a specific receptor, TRPV1. However, when deepening his work, the researchers realized that this receptor was not exclusive for capsaicin, but also worked as a sensor for the temperature that was activated to point out a temperature as a painful. The discovery of TRPV1 allowed to find other temperature receptors, such as TRPM8, a cold receiver that Julius and Patapoutian found, independently, by experiments with menthol.

In addition, that thread also allowed identifying recipients related to pain, which has allowed to delve into the mechanisms of acute and chronic pain and advance therapies to control it.

Patapoutian wanted to investigate another mystery related to the functioning of the senses: the mechanisms that allow us to notice mechanical stimuli as the pressure.

Since its laboratory at the Scripps Institute, in La Jolla, California, scientist of Lebanese origin managed to identify the genes of the receptors that are activated with tension (piezo1, piezo2, piezo3), fundamental for the sense of touch and proprioception.

In addition, it has also been shown that ION channels regulated by piezo1 and piezo2 are key in physiological processes such as breathing, urinary control or blood pressure.

"Investigating the nerves that allow us to feel the touch and pain, we realized something unusual: they are capable of perceiving physical forces, both mechanical and temperature forces," the scientist recalled a few months ago, after the granting of the borders of the Knowledge.

Among other applications, the discoveries of Julius and Patapoutian are being used to advance in the knowledge of different diseases and the development of pain treatments.

"Its discoveries are giving us the possibility to explain the pain of our patients and also the possibility of developing new treatments in the future," says Jesús Porta-Etessam, vice president of the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN). The pain accompanies the man in the whole story of him and is "in the 21st century, when he starts to understand", as well as the mechanisms that hide behind the perception of temperature. There is no doubt, clarifies porta-ettess, that "the recognition of pain and temperature control are key aspects in survival."

This type of jobs open the doors to new therapeutic targets. In fact, the mechanisms related to capsaicin that Julius discovered "we currently use in clinical practice with intractable painful polyneuropathy patients (in ointment or patches)," he adds.

"From the laws of mechanics (or dynamics) of Isaac Newton, we know that biological systems and their components (organisms, tissues, cells, molecules ...) are subjected as the rest of material particles in the universe to mechanical stimuli . Therefore, it is surprising that even the discoveries of Patapoutian and others did not understand something as basic as the manner 'feel' the mechanical forces ", says, on the other hand, Miguel Ángel del Pozo, researcher at the National Center of Cardiovascular investigations (CNIC).

Its discoveries continues, promoted the emerging field of 'mechanobiology', which tries to understand the border between mechanical physics and biology and its application to engineering and medicine. "Mechanical forces play a fundamental role in the development and functioning of the cardiovascular system and many of its disorders, or at the origin and dissemination of cancer, among others, and this new perspective is assuming an authentic revolution in different branches of biology and Biomedicine. For example, our laboratory investigates the role of arterial flow in atherosclerosis, "says of the well, which directs the mechanariator of MechanoAdaptation and Biology of Caveolas in the CNIC. "Although most atherosclerosis risk factors act throughout the body, now we know that injuries are specifically produced in places where blood flow is turbulent or disorderly", exemplifies, highlighting the importance of betting on basic research. "As ARDEM itself has highlighted, this new paradigm underlines the importance of supporting basic science, science science ... to generate knowledge that will have insurance practical applications still unimaginable."

Manuel Alegre, investigator of the Neuroscience program of the top and director of the Neurophysiology Service of the University of Navarra clinic, explains that "these investigations, in short, that they have been fundamental to understand the physiology of these sensory receptors and contribute to the progress of the Research in treatment of various diseases and pain control and relief. " It also emphasizes that, in the case of the group of the ARDEM Patapoutian group, "the perception of mechanical stimuli is not only relevant in order to know the degree of stretching of our muscles or tension in tendons (proprioception), but is also important in Cardiovascular regulation (for example, detecting pressure on blood vessels) and could even be fundamental in the process of developing the central nervous system, controlling cellular differentiation. " And he adds that with the works of David Julius "it has been allowed to better understand the molecular mechanisms of the perception of cold, heat and pain, both acute and chronic and to understand why some substances can generate cold sensation (menthol) or heat / pain (Chickens).

David Julius was born in 1955 in New York (USA). He received himself in 1984 at the University of California, Berkeley, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Columbia, in New York. Later, Julius was recruited for the University of California, San Francisco in 1989, where he is now a teacher.

In 2010 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research in 2010, along with Linda Watkins and Baruch Minke, for his innovative studies on pain. The three researchers in the field of sensory neurobiology carried out discoveries that together allow a deeper understanding of the cell and molecular bases of the different sensations, especially the pain.

ARDEM Patapoutian was born in 1967 in Beirut (Lebanon). In the youth of him, he moved from a beirut devastated by the war to Los Angeles (USA). He received himself in 1996 at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena (USA). He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California (San Francisco). Since 2000, he is scientist at Scripps Research (La Jolla, California), where he now exercises as a teacher. He also works as a researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2014. Patapoutian has written more than a hundred academic articles in high impact publications. After the award of the Knowledge Border Award, Patapoutian, who received the "very excited" award, insisted on the need to "support basic science, science by science", taking into account that important benefits of a more practical nature will arrive later .

Last year the winners were researchers William G. Kaelin (USA), Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe (United Kingdom) and Gregg L. Semenza (USA). The award is due to its discoveries on how the cells are capable of recognizing and adapted to the availability of oxygen.

In 2019, the Karolinska Institute distinguished the scientists James P. Allison and Tasuku honor by his investigations on cancer immunotherapy.

After the Medicine Award, which opens the Nobel's delivery every year, will continue physics on Tuesday, October 5, Chemistry on Wednesday 6 and Literature on Thursday. 8 The Nobel de la Paz will be granted and finally , the Award for Economic Sciences will be announced on Monday 11.

This edition will be marked by the Coronavirus pandemic. As happened last year, the delivery ceremony of the awards, which plans to be held within three months, will be reduced by a minimum. In addition, the awards will be delivered in the countries of origin or residence of the distinguished, informs EFE.

Updated Date: 07 October 2021, 07:06

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