The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to scientists who have discovered how heat, cold and touch can be sensed.
Ardem Patapoutian and David Julius were jointly awarded the Nobel Assembly prize at the Karolinska Institutet for their discovery of temperature and touch receptors.
The Laureates looked into how nerve impulses in the body allow pressure and temperature to be felt. These findings could lead to new treatments for pain conditions.
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How did they achieve these amazing discoveries? Capsaicin, a compound made of chilli peppers, was used by David Julius to find a heat-sensitive sensor in his skin.
Ardem Patapoutian developed pressure-sensitive cells in order to discover a new class sensors that respond to stimuli in the skin or internal organs.
The missing links in scientific understanding of senses and how they relate to the environment were identified by the Laureates.
According to The Nobel Assembly, these breakthrough discoveries led to intense research activities that resulted in a rapid increase of our understanding of how the nervous system reacts to heat, cold, or mechanical stimuli.