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Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2021

Published on 10.04.2021

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian «for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.» Their research identified transient receptor potential (TRP) and PIEZO ion channels as the proteins that sense these ubiquitous stimuli.

It all makes sense!

The groundbreaking discoveries of the TRPV1, TRPM8 and Piezo channels by this year’s Nobel Prize laureates have allowed us to understand how heat, cold and mechanical force can initiate the nerve impulses that allow us to perceive and adapt to the world around us. The TRP channels are central for our ability to perceive temperature. The Piezo2 channel endows us with the sense of touch and the ability to feel the position and movement of our body parts. TRP and Piezo channels also contribute to numerous additional physiological functions that depend on sensing temperature or mechanical stimuli. Intensive ongoing research originating from this year’s Nobel Prize awarded discoveries focusses on elucidating their functions in a variety of physiological processes. This knowledge is being used to develop treatments for a wide range of disease conditions, including chronic pain (Figure 4).

To celebrate the award Nature Portfolio presented a Collection including publications from the winners, essential reviews on the topic, and further exciting research focused on different aspects of TRP and PIEZO channels and their roles in physiology and disease, including several key papers from our lab!

Crystal structure of the epithelial calcium channel TRPV6
The transient receptor potential (TRP) channels are a superfamily of cation-permeable ion channels that act as transducers of sensory modalities, including temperature, taste, olfaction, vision, hearing and touch. TRPV5 and TRPV6 are TRP channels that are highly…
Kei Saotome, et al, 2021