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Thursday, October 12

2017 - Nobel Prize in chemistry- Cryo-Electron Microscopy

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TNPSC Current Affairs - October 2017 by TNPSC Guru

For 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for developing “cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution”

About the discovery:
  • The Three laureates have developed a technique that take accurate and high resolution, 3D images of proteins, nucleic acids and other biomolecules and how biomolecules move and interact as they perform their functions
  • It helps Scientist to see the complex structures of biomolecules, that helps to develop new drugs and medical treatment because understanding the biomolecules is fundamental to biochemistry.
  • Recently cryo-electron microscopy is even helped scientist to image the Zika Virus


About the Cryo-Electron Microscopy and its advantages. 
  • In Traditional Transmission electron Microscopes (TEMs) uses beam of electron passes through the molecules to examine the structure of molecules.
  • But particularly biomolecules are not compatible with the intense electron beams.
  • The water surrounds in the molecules get evaporated and get damaged when the high intense electron beams passes using traditional TEMs.
  • So to overcome these difficulties, Cyro-Electron Microscopy has been developed. It uses frozen samples, gentler electron beams to get the images.
  • Question may arise that we can use X-ray diffraction to get high resolution structures of biomolecules. But to get the x-ray structure, we need to crystallise the molecule, but many molecules won’t crystallise and also it sometimes alters the structure. Cryo-Electron Micrscopy doesn’t require molecules to crystallise.


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