Three scientists share 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry


Malcolm Lowe-Lauri, executive director at Cambridge University Healkh Partners, said: "It is fantastic news to hear we have yet another Nobel prize victor in Cambridge and I would like to send my congratulations to Richard Henderson and to the MRC's Laboratory of Molecular Biology".

The ultra-sensitive imaging method allows molecules to be flash-frozen and studied in their natural form, without the need for dyes.

"There are so many other discoveries every day, I was in a way speechless", he said. The desired atomic resolution was reached in 2013, and researchers can now routinely produce three-dimensional structures of biomolecules.

Frank said cryo-electron microscopy had "immense" potential for medical research, which is increasingly focused on processes inside cells, but it would take time for this to play out - and he was taken aback by news of the award.

Scientific breakthroughs often build upon the successful visualisation of objects invisible to the human eye, but for decades these biochemical maps have had large blank spaces because the available technology has had difficulty generating images of much of life's molecular machinery.

Richard Henderson, working at Cambridge University, was the first to apply electron microscopy to proteins back in 1990, which proved the technology's potential for biological applications.

Cryomicroscopy allows studying biological samples without altering their properties, since it avoids the use of colorants or the electrons coming from X-rays. Frank made the technology widely usable between 1975 and 1986 as he developed method for processing more detail in the electron microscope's fuzzy two-dimensional images to reveal a sharp 3D structure.

A BRITISH scientist has been awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry along with two colleagues from Switzerland and the US.

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The trio will share the prize money of nine million Swedish krona (around $1.1m).

Mr Henderson said he was "delighted for everyone in the field".

These improvements are now allowing atomic structure determinations of many protein and other macromolecular assemblies that were previously very hard or impossible to obtain. What had been seen as blobs can now be distinguished as proteins in atomic resolution.

It can also be used to examine proteins that kickstart the immune system's attack on intruder viruses.

Indeed, cryo-electron microscopy is already delivering results, such as the recent discovery of the structure of tau protein filaments in Alzheimer's disease.

"And as a biologist, I can say that the pictures are lovely", he added.

Chemistry is the third of this year's Nobel Prizes after the winners of the medicine and physics prizes were announced earlier this week.