Nobel Prizes

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine: The discovery of the receptors that let us sense temperature and touch

Infographic on the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which was awarded for the discoveries of several receptors for temperature and touch. David Julius identified the TRPV1 receptor, which senses temperature, using capsaicin from chilli peppers. Further temperature sensing ion channels include TRPM8, activated by cold temperatures and identified using menthol, the cool compound in mint. Ardem Patapoutian discovered mechanosensitive receptors, Piezo1 and Piezo2, which are essential for the sense of touch, regulating blood pressure, respiration and bladder control. Understanding these receptors has led to the development of treatment for pain, some cancers, and asthma.
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The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded today, to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch”.

To read about the science behind the prize in more detail, check out the Nobel Prize press release here, or the more detailed scientific background here.

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