The Nobel Prize committee has just announced the winners of the third prize this year, the Chemistry award. The two winners this year are Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka "for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors."
This type of receptors are widely used in the human body. These receptors are targeted by a huge number of available medicine used today.
The committee has already announced the winners for Physiology and Medicine, Japan's Shinya Yamanaka and Britain's John Gurdon, shared the award for their work with stem cells, specifically triggering a regular, specialized cell to revert back to its stem-cell status, greatly expanding the possibilities of the field.
French Serge Haroche and American David J. Wineland shared the Physics award, presented yesterday, for their work in quantum optics.
While their work was somewhat different, they both achieved what was thought to be impossible not so long ago, analysing matter and its quantum properties without altering them.
UPDATE: Here's more info from the Nobel Prize committee:
"Lefkowitz started to use radioactivity in 1968 in order to trace cells' receptors. He attached an iodine isotope to various hormones, and thanks to the radiation, he managed to unveil several receptors, among those a receptor for adrenalin: β-adrenergic receptor," it said.
"The team achieved its next big step during the 1980s. The newly recruited Kobilka accepted the challenge to isolate the gene that codes for the β-adrenergic receptor from the gigantic human genome."
"Today this family is referred to as G-protein–coupled receptors. About a thousand genes code for such receptors, for example, for light, flavour, odour, adrenalin, histamine, dopamine and serotonin. About half of all medications achieve their effect through G-protein–coupled receptors."
"In 2011, Kobilka achieved another break-through; he and his research team captured an image of the β-adrenergic receptor at the exact moment that it is activated by a hormone and sends a signal into the cell. This image is a molecular masterpiece – the result of decades of research."