Earlier today, the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to:
- Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge,United Kingdom
- Thomas A. Steitz, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
- Ada E. Yonath, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
“for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.”
These scientists used a method called X-ray crystallography to map the position for each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of atoms that make up the ribosome.
But, what is a ribosome?
Ribosomes are cellular structures that produce proteins. DNA contains the informational “blueprint” for proteins, but ribosomes are the structures that actually make proteins. There are tens of thousands of proteins in the body and they all have different forms and functions. Essentially, poteins build and control life at the chemical level.
Thanks to the work of these three scientists, we now have a more detailed understanding of how ribosomes function. Specifically, they researched how different antibiotics bind to ribosomes. After all, if an antibiotic can be designed to specifically bind to –and impair function of –the ribosomes of a bacteria, the bacteria cell will die.
This information is now being used by scientists in order to develop new antibiotics, directly assisting the saving of lives and decreasing humanity’s suffering.
Photo image: Milosz1