Three researchers who developed a way to see the basic molecules of life in three dimensions won the 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on Wednesday. Jacques Dubochet of Switzerland's University of Lausanne, Joachim Frank of Columbia University in New York City, and Richard Henderson of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in England were honored "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution," said Göran Hansson, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in announcing the prize in Stockholm. SEE ALSO: Google Doodle honours Australia's only Nobel Prize winner in chemistry Basically, cryo-EM lets biologists see what they're studying, from the surface of the Zika virus to human enzymes involved in disease. If a molecule involved in cancer, for instance, by seeing its shape drug developers can glean clues about the kind of molecule they need to create to disrupt the molecule. The prize is therefore another example of the chemistry Nobel honoring research that is squarely within biology.
The discovery of a way to see complex biological molecules in atomic resolution has won this year's Nobel prize in Chemistry. The award has gone to Richard Henderson, Jacques Dubochet and Joachim Frank for developing cryo-electron microscopy, which cools down substances to liquid nitrogen temperatures. Their techniques have recently let us see in unprecedented detail the surface of the Zika virus, bacterial proteins that cause antibiotic resistance, and tumour cell proteins that let cancers become resistant to chemotherapy. Previous electron microscopes were less useful, partly because they need the sample to be placed in a vacuum. This causes surrounding water to evaporate, and the molecules being studied collapse and lose their normal structure.
STOCKHOLM – Scientists Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson won the 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for developing cryo-electron microscopy, which simplifies and improves the imaging of biomolecules. Cryo-electron microscopy has enabled scientists to fill in previously blank spaces in research, generating images of everything from proteins that cause antibiotic resistance to the surface of the Zika virus. "This method has moved biochemistry into a new era," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards Nobel Prizes, said in a statement. The awarding brings a prize of 9 million Swedish crowns ($1.1 million). "Researchers can now freeze biomolecules mid-movement and visualise processes they have never previously seen, which is decisive for both the basic understanding of life's chemistry and for the development of pharmaceuticals," the written statement said.
The 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to three scientists for improving images made of biological molecules. Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson will share the nine million kronor (£831,000) prize. They were named at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden. They developed a technique called cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), which simplifies the process for looking at the machinery of life. The process makes it possible for life's molecular building blocks to be captured mid-movement and allowed scientists to visualise processes that had never before been seen.
One of the many perks of being human (upright walking, big brains, we can win awards) is our ability to transcend the limits of our senses. Just because something is too small to see with the naked eye doesn't mean it doesn't exist. We may be un-microscopic animals, but we can still peer into the microscopic world. That's thanks in large part to a technique called cryo-electron microscopy, which today earned three scientists--Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson--the Nobel Prize for chemistry. Their work has helped reveal the shape of biological molecules like proteins by combining beams of electrons with very, very cold temperatures, in the process revolutionizing the field of biochemistry.