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Nobel prize in Chemistry: 2017

  Jun 07, 2018

Nobel prize in Chemistry: 2017

Nobel prize in Chemistry: 2017
The 2017 Nobel prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Jacques Dubochet (University of Lausanne, Switzerland) Joachim Frank (Columbia University, New York) and Richard Henderson (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, U.K.) for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.
Cryo-electron microscopy
“Cryo”, short for cryogenic refers to very low temperatures. Though the actual temperature is not well defined, it is below minus 150°C. In the context of electron microscopy, it refers to the fact that the object to be imaged is frozen to such low temperatures to facilitate being studied under the beam of the electron microscope.
Application
This method is so effective that in recent times, it has been used to image the elusive Zika virus. Zika virus was causing the epidemic of brain-damaged newborns in Brazil. Using Cryo-electron microscopythree dimensional (3D) images of the virus at atomic resolution were generated and researchers were able to search for potential targets for drugs.
The utility of cryo-electron microscopy allows the observation of specimens that have not been stained or fixed in any way, showing them in their native environment. This is in contrast to X-ray crystallography, which requires crystallizing the specimen, which can be difficult, and placing them in non-physiological environments, which can occasionally lead to functionally irrelevant conformational changes.