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Trio Awarded Nobel Chemistry Prize

October 7, 2009

Three scientists were awarded the Nobel chemistry prize Wednesday for their groundbreaking work in mapping the ribosome, which creates protein for human life.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath would receive the chemistry award for using X-ray crystallography to show what a ribosome looks like and how it functions at the atomic level.

Ribosomes are responsible for the creation of proteins: oxygen-transporting haemoglobin, antibodies of the immune system, hormones such as insulin, the collagen of the skin, or enzymes that break down sugar, the academy explained.

The trio of scientists’ work has proven to be beneficial in the development of many modern antibiotics that cure diseases by blocking the function of bacterial ribosomes.

Each of the three prize winners have created three-dimensional models to show how different antibiotics are bound to the ribosome. These models have been used to develop new antibiotics.

“Without functional ribosomes, bacteria cannot survive. This is why ribosomes are such an important target for new antibiotics,” said the academy.

“This year’s Nobel laureates reached the finishing line almost simultaneously.”

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