Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nobel Prize

Trio wins chemistry Nobel for solving ribosome riddle

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Three scientists who produced atom-by-atom maps of the mysterious, life-giving ribosome won the Nobel chemistry prize on Wednesday for a breakthrough that has allowed researchers to develop powerful new antibiotics.
While DNA molecules contain the blueprint for life inside each cell of every organism, it is the ribosome that translates that information into life.
Israeli Ada Yonath and Americans Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz shared the 10 million Swedish crown ($1.4 million) prize for showing how the ribosome, a kind of protein factory, operates at the atomic level.
"As ribosomes are crucial to life, they are also a major target for new antibiotics," the Nobel Committee for Chemistry at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.
The academy said many of today's antibiotics cure various diseases by blocking the function of bacterial ribosomes.
Yonath, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, told a news conference by telephone that she was elated to receive the award: "It is above and beyond my dreams."
A method known as X-ray crystallography was used to pinpoint each of the hundreds of thousands of atoms in a ribosome.
The technique involves aiming X-rays at a crystal. The rays scatter when they hit atoms and by looking at how they spread out, scientists can determine where atoms are positioned.

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