Published on: October 5, 2021



What is in news : U.S. scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian on Monday won the Nobel Medicine Prize for discoveries on receptors for temperature and touch.


  • The Nobel Prize award was first conferred in 1901. It is given in the name of Alfred Nobel who was a Swedish inventor.
  • The season for Nobel Prize begins in October every year.
  • The Nobel Prize is awarded yearly to the individuals or organizations who do an extraordinary job in the field of Physics, chemistry, literature, peace, physiology or medicine and Economics.
  • All the Nobel Prizes are given at Stockholm, Sweden except for the Nobel Peace Prize which is awarded at Oslo, Norway.
  • The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine field is awarded by the Karolinska Institute. While in Physics, Chemistry and economics the prize is awarded by Royal Swedish academy of science.
  • The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by Norwegian Nobel Committee. In Literature, the Swedish Academy grants the Nobel Prize while the Sveriges Riksbank prize is given in the field of Economic Sciences.
  • Three people at maximum can share a Nobel Prize.



  • Artificial sensors are familiar in today’s world. A thermometer is a very common temperature sensor.
  • Similarly, in the human body, all the molecules do not sense heat when they are exposed to it. Only very specific proteins do, and it is their job to relay this signal to the nervous system, which then triggers an appropriate response. Scientists knew that such sensors must exist, but were not able to identify them until Julius discovered the first heat receptor.
  • In 1997, Dr. Julius and his team published a paper in Nature detailing how capsaicin, or the chemical compound in chilli peppers, causes the burning sensation. They created a library of DNA fragments to understand the corresponding genes and finally discovered a new capsaicin receptor and named it TRPV1. This discovery paved the way for the identification of many other temperature-sensing receptors.
  • Independently of one another, both David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian identified another new receptor called TRPM8, a receptor that is activated by cold.
  • Ardem Patapoutian further studied if these receptors can be activated by mechanical stimuli. His team poked cells with a micropipette and identified a cell line that produced an electric signal in response. They identified a single gene, which when silenced made the cells insensitive to the poking. They named this new mechanosensitive ion channel
  • knowledge of the TRPV1, TRPM8 and Piezo channel is being used to develop treatments for a wide range of disease conditions, including chronic pain