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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nobel Prize 2009 given to Pioneering Work that will help in making of new antibiotics

An India born Indian American, Dr. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan,
currently affiliated to MRC laboratory of Molecular biology, in
Cambridge, UK was awarded Nobel Prize for chemistry for his
work on ribosome’s that will help develop new antibiotics. He shares the prize with Dr. Thomas Steitz of Yale University, Connecticut, USA and Dr. Ada Yonath of Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Ribosomes (from ribonucleic acid and "Greek: soma (meaning body)") are complexes of RNA and protein that are found in all cells with nuclei. To most people, ribosomes are tiny. Tens of thousands would fit on the sharpened tip of a pencil. But to scientists, ribosomes are huge. Each is a molecular machine. The ribosome is part of the mechanism that translates the DNA sequence into the protein sequence (proteins are translated from mRNA, mRNA is transcribed from DNA, so DNA is not 'translated' directly into protein). Ribosomes from bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes have significantly different structure and RNA. The differences between the bacterial and eukaryotic ribosomes are exploited by

pharmaceutical chemists to create antibiotics that can destroy a bacterial infection without harming the cells of the infected person. Due to the differences in their structures, the bacterial 70S ribosomes are vulnerable to the antibiotics while the eukaryotic 80S ribosomes are not.
The work of the Nobel Prize winning trio will advance the design of antibiotic drugs. Many of today's antibiotics work by sabotaging bacterial ribosomes. By comparing the overall structure and internal channels and caverns of bacterial ribosomes with those of higher organisms such as humans, researchers may be able to design compounds that clog the works of bacterial ribosomes but leave human ribosomes alone. This could lead to new antibiotics that are highly effective and have minimal side effects.