Trio take Nobel Prize in Chemistry for improved imaging of biomolecules; work may aid study on Zika virus

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson on Wednesday for their work which helped to visualise the structure of biomolecules.

Through cryo-electron microscopy, they developed a method to freeze biomolecules which enables them to study their structures and processes, The Nobel Prize's official Twitter account explained. Their work has aided in research of Zika virus, which causes brain-damage in newborns, The Guardian reported.

The 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize is shared by Jacques Dubochet of the University of Lausanne, Joachim Frank at New York's Columbia University and Richard Henderson of MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, Britain.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their method, called cryo-electron microscopy, allows researchers to "freeze biomolecules" mid-movement and helps them visualise the processes they have never previously seen.

Illustration of the resolution progression of cryo-EM. Twitter@TheNobelPrize

Illustration of the resolution progression of cryo-EM. Twitter@TheNobelPrize

The development, it said, "is decisive for both the basic understanding of life's chemistry and for the development of pharmaceuticals."

The annual prize in chemistry rewards researchers for major advances in studying the infinitesimal bits of material that are the building blocks of life.

Recent prizes have gone to scientists who developed molecular "machines" — molecules with controllable motions — and who mapped how cells repair damaged DNA, leading to improved cancer treatments.

It's the third Nobel announced this week.

The medicine prize went to three Americans studying circadian rhythms: Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young. The physics prize went to Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne for detecting gravitational waves.

The literature winner will be named Thursday and the peace prize will be announced Friday.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Oct 04, 2017 16:56 PM

Also See