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Nobel prize in chemistry awarded for method to visualise biomolecules
World | science | 16:23, 04 October 2017 | 5158

AKIPRESS.COM - Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson have won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution," the Nobel committee announced Wednesday.

Cryo-electron microscopy is "a cool method for imaging the materials of life," said Nobel committee member Göran K. Hansson from Stockholm. The development allows scientists to visualize proteins and other biological molecules at the atomic level, Washington Post reported.

Dubochet, a Swiss citizen, is a professor at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Joachim Frank, born in Germany, is a Columbia University professor in New York. Richard Henderson, of Scotland, works at Cambridge University in Britain.

Scientists must keep molecules in place to take images in ultra-high resolution. Other microscopic techniques, such as x-ray crystallography, are far more rigid than cryo-electron microscopy. Stockholm University biochemist Peter Brzezinski said on Wednesday that the future of cryo-electron imaging will not be simply taking still images but those of molecules in motion, recording movies that illuminate a world on the atomic scale.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded 109 prizes in chemistry. Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff, a pioneer in physical chemistry, won the inaugural award in 1901. Last year, the Nobel committee recognized three chemists who created truly micro machines: engines just a few molecules in size. The researchers defeated molecular equilibrium to design shapes that, like microscopic wheels, move on command.

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