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


In this undated photo provided by Scripps Research, Prof. Ardem Patapoutian poses for a picture. Patapoutian has been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for groundbreaking research that solved a long-standing mystery of how the body senses touch and other mechanical stimuli. Patapoutian, a professor of neuroscience at Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif., and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, shares the prize with David Julius, PhD, at UC San Francisco for “their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.” (Courtesy of Scripps Research via AP)

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Two scientists have won the Nobel Prize in medicine for their discoveries into how the human body perceives temperature and touch.

The revelations 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. Researchers are working on drugs to target them.

But the breakthroughs happened decades ago and have not yet yielded many effective new treatments for pain.

The Nobel Committee announced the winners Monday.

Julius used capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers, to help pinpoint the nerve sensors that respond to heat.

Patapoutian found pressure-sensitive sensors in cells that respond to mechanical stimulation.

FILE – In this Sunday, Nov, 3, 2019 file photo, 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences winner David Julius poses at the 8th Annual Breakthrough Prize Ceremony at NASA Ames Research Center on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Mountain View, Calif. The Nobel Prize in the field of physiology or medicine has been awarded to U.S. scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian. They were cited for their discovery of receptors for temperature and touch. The winners were announced Monday, Oct. 4, 2021 by Thomas Perlmann, secretary-general of the Nobel Committee. (Photo by Peter Barreras/Invision/AP, File)

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