Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz and Dr. Brian K. Kobilka are the reason drug makers can and will make drugs with fewer side effects, and after 40 years spent studying the body's protein receptors, they have won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Lefkowitz and Kobilka have been researching "G-protein-coupled receptors," which are the protein receptors and form of communication the body uses to tell cells what's going on. An example The New York Times's Kenneth Chang uses is what we know as "fight-or-flight." Lefkowitz and Kobilka figured out how G-protein-receptors figure into all of that. "They serve as the gateway to the cells," Lefkowitz said in report by CNN's Ben Brumfield—the receptors sense adrenaline, which sets off reactions and triggers within the cell. "Around half of all medications act through these receptors, among them beta blockers, antihistamines, and various kinds of psychiatric medications," explained the academy in Brumfield's report. Experts believe the research will only lead to better medicine. "In particular Kobilka's work in determining the structure of G-protein coupled receptors has revolutionised our understanding of how they work as small 'molecular machines' and will lead to enormous advances in drug design," one expert told the BBC.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.