STOCKHOLM (AP) - Americans Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka won the
2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for studies of protein
receptors that let body cells sense and respond to outside signals. Such
studies are key for developing better drugs.
The Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences said the two researchers had made groundbreaking
discoveries on an important family of receptors, known as
About half of all medications act on these receptors, so learning about them will help scientists to come up with better drugs.
69, is an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and
professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
Kobilka, 57, is a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.
"I'm feeling very, very excited," Lefkowitz told a news conference in Stockholm by phone.
He said he was fast asleep when the Nobel committee called.
did not hear it ... I wear earplugs, so my wife gave me an elbow," he
said. "And there it was. .... It was a total shock and surprise."
academy said it was long a mystery how cells interact with their
environment and adapt to new situations, such as when adrenalin
increases blood pressure and makes the heart beat faster.
Scientists suspected that cell surfaces had some some type of receptor for hormones.
radioactivity, Lefkowitz managed to unveil receptors including the
receptor for adrenalin, and started to understand how it works.
work helped researchers realize that there is a whole family of
receptors that look alike - a family that is now called
The Nobel week started Monday with
the medicine prize going to stem cell pioneers John Gurdon of Britain
and Japan's Shinya Yamanaka. Frenchman Serge Haroche and American David
Wineland won the physics prize Tuesday for work on quantum particles.
Nobel Prizes were established in the will of 19th century Swedish
industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. Each award is
worth 8 million kronor, or about $1.2 million. The awards are always
handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896.
2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.