Yesterday the Nobel Prize Awards took place in Stockholm and Oslo. Here in Norway we pay most attention to the Peace Prize, but all of the prices are very prestigious and are considered one of the highest rewards one cat get within all the represented science disciplines. This year the Chemistry Price was given to the American professors Brian Kobilka and Robert Lefkowitz for their work over many years on increasing the understanding of GPCRs, or G-protein-coupled receptors.
Guest professor at CERG this year, Patricia Chakur-Brum, has been supervised by and worked with Brian Kobilka for several years and we took a little chat on the issue.
– What was your reaction the reward?
– I was of course very proud and happy. Brian is so dedicated and he has been working with this for so many years. He loves his research and he is such a good example and source of inspiration for me. Besides, he is a very nice person, very humble and rather shy. I have sent him my congratulations and told him I am here for this year.
– Can you explain what GPCRs are to us chemistry dummies ?
– GPCR is an abbreviation of G-proteine-coupled receptors, which is a family of cell surface receptors. These attach to signal molecules outside the cell and activates G-proteines in the cell membrane, which will activate downstream signaling pathways. In this way, GPCRs are involved in the regulation of several bodily functions.The receptors are also central in many diseases, and is thus a target of a large amount of medical drugs.
– What practical implications does this understanding have?
– First; knowledge of cellular functions is a great value in itself. More practically, this can lead to development of better and more specifically targeted drugs.