2 win medicine Nobel for showing how we react to heat, touch


October 5, 2021

STOCKHOLM - Two scientists won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for their discoveries into how the human body perceives temperature and touch, revelations that could lead to new ways of treating pain or even heart disease.

Americans David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian separately identified receptors in the skin that respond to heat and pressure, and researchers are working on drugs to target them. Some hope the discoveries could eventually lead to pain treatments that reduce dependence on highly addictive opioids. But the breakthroughs, which happened decades ago, have not yet yielded many effective new therapies.

Julius, of the University of California at San Francisco, used capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers, to help pinpoint the nerve sensors that respond to heat, the Nobel Committee said. Patapoutian, of Scripps Research Institute at La Jolla, California, found pressure-sensitive sensors in cells that respond to mechanical stimulation.



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