3 researchers win Nobel Prize in Chemistry


Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson were awarded the prize on 4 October for their work in developing developing cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), a technique that fires beams of electrons at proteins - frozen in solution - to deduce the biomolecules' structure.

Henderson earned his doctorate from Cambridge University in Britain in 1969, and later became the program leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge.

The Nobel award week opened Monday with a trio of U.S. scientists sharing the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research into how organism's internal biological clocks align themselves with natural cycles of night and day.

"The use of these methods has completely revolutionized structural biology so everyone now wants to buy this type of equipment and start this type of research, all over the world", Johan Aqvist, another Nobel committee member, told Reuters.

The researchers' combined efforts led to major advances in how scientists use electron microscopes today-the microscopes that can image down to the atomic level.

"Normally what I'd do if I was in Cambridge, we will have a party around tea-time in the lab but I expect we'll have it tomorrow instead", said Henderson.

The method means that, for example, molecules in bacteria and viruses - such as the Zika virus - can be examined under a microscope in their native, undamaged state. The achievement was to preserve the structure of liquid water at a temperature low enough so that it would not evaporate.

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In 1990, Henderson used an electron microscope to create a 3-D image of a protein at atomic resolution, a breakthrough because previously electron microscopes were thought to only be able to capture images of dead matter, since the electron beam was so strong it would have destroyed biological material.

Science has contributed more the human civilisation than any other disciplines.

It has laid bare never-before-seen details of the tiny protein machines that run all cells.

The development of Cryo-electron microscopy changes all of this.

The electron microscope was designed in the early 1930s by the German physicist Ernst Ruska, for which he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics (along with Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer who shared the other half of the Prize).

The trio was presented with the prize money of 9 million Swedish crowns ($1.1 million) which will be split into three equals.

Thursday sees the announcement of the victor (s) of the literature prize, and the much-awaited peace prize victor (s) will be announced on Friday.