Before attaining a breakthrough in their area of expertise, scientists have to dedicate years of study to a particular subject. Therefore, there’s no wonder that the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to a new investigating method. The finer their tools, the more discoveries specialists can make. Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson are the authors of cryo-electron microscopy technique.
The Nobel Prize Went to an International Team that Pioneered the Cryo-Electron Microscopy Technique
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences deemed this year necessary to acknowledge the merits of a new method to study molecules. As a result, Henderson, at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the UK, Dubochet, at the Switzerland’s University of Lausanne, and Frank, at New York’s Columbia University will share the $1 million prize.
The work of the three scientists led to a new chapter in the world of biochemistry. That’s because they came up with a way to study the molecules of life while they still are in their natural state.
On top of that, this innovative microscopy technique allows scientists to carry out their investigations at high resolution. Therefore, the Nobel chemistry commission concluded that work is of utmost importance.
“Researchers can now freeze biomolecules mid-movement and visualize processes they have never previously seen.”
As a result, researchers won’t need dyes anymore to observe molecules through their microscopes. Moreover, the elements of interest can preserve their natural forms even under the lens thanks to a flash-frozen method.
The innovative edge of this approach is to freeze the element before visualization. However, this process must happen at a fast speed so that the molecules preserve their natural shape. The result is an ultra-sensitive image of the bricks of life.
Before This Discovery, Scientists Could Observe Only Dead Molecules
The international team tested their technique by surprising exclusive details of the tiny protein machines that put all cells in motion. This wouldn’t have been possible before. In the absence of a better solution, most modern sciences were observed with X-Ray crystallography.
This method used powerful electron beams to get a 3D reproduction of electrons. However, the microscope would have killed the organisms in this process. As a result, scientists were only looking at the carcasses of molecules devoid of life.
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