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Scientist V Ramakrishnan wins 2009 Chemistry Nobel
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Lathesh Suryakantha

Scientist V Ramakrishnan wins 2009 Chemistry Nobel

UK based Indian origin scientist Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has won the 2009 Nobel Prize [ Images ] for Chemistry along with American Thomas A Steitz and Isreali scientist Ada E Yonath.

The trio were awarded for their study of the structure and function of the ribosome, one of life’s core processes.

Ribosomes produce proteins, which in turn control the chemistry in all living organisms. As ribosomes are crucial to life, they are also a major target for new antibiotics.

They showed what the ribosome looks like and how it functions at the atomic level.

According to statement released by the three scientists have 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.

Inside every cell in all organisms, there are DNA molecules. They contain the blueprints for how a human being, a plant or a bacterium, looks and functions. But the DNA molecule is passive. If there was nothing else, there would be no life.

The blueprints become transformed into living matter through the work of ribosomes. Based upon the information in DNA, ribosomes make proteins: oxygen-transporting haemoglobin, antibodies of the immune system, hormones such as insulin, the collagen of the skin, or enzymes that break down sugar. There are tens of thousands of proteins in the body and they all have different forms and functions. They build and control life at the chemical level.

They generated 3D models that showed how different antibiotics bind to the ribosome, the award committee said, adding that these models were now being used by scientists in order to develop new antibiotics, directly assisting the saving of lives and decreasing humanity’s suffering.

Born in 1952 in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, Ramakrishnan completed his PhD in Physics in 1976 from Ohio University, US.

He is the Group Leader at the Structural Studies Division, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK.

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Posted on: October 07, 2009

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