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3 Researchers Win Nobel Prize In Chemistry For Cryo-electron Microscopy

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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 was awarded to three researchers - Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson - for the development of cryo-electron microscopy, which simplifies and improves the imaging of biomolecules.

This method has moved biochemistry into a new era.

Electron microscopes were long believed to be suitable only for imaging dead matter, because the powerful electron beam destroys biological material. But in 1990, Richard Henderson succeeded in using an electron microscope to generate a three-dimensional image of a protein at atomic resolution. This breakthrough proved the technology's potential.

Joachim Frank made the technology generally applicable. He developed an image processing method in which the electron microscope's fuzzy twodimensional images are analysed and merged to reveal a sharp three-dimensional structure.

Jacques Dubochet added water to electron microscopy.

As a result of these discoveries, researchers can now routinely produce three-dimensional structures of biomolecules. In the past few years, scientific literature has been filled with images of everything from proteins that cause antibiotic resistance, to the surface of the Zika virus.

Henderson, 72, is a Scottish molecular biologist. He was the Director of the Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC LMB) in Cambridge.

Joachim Frank, 77, is a German-born biophysicist at Columbia University, New York City. He is regarded as the founder of single-particle cryo-electron microscopy.

Jacques Dubochet, 75, is a retired Swiss biophysicist. He is a former employee of EMBL Heidelberg and a professor at the University of Lausanne.

Professor Göran K. Hansson, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, announced this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry in Stockholm Wednesday.

He said the prize amount of 9 million Swedish krona ($1.10 million) will be shared equally between the Laureates.

by RTT Staff Writer

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