[00:00.00]Three scientists have won the Nobel Prize for chemistry for their work to simplify and improve the imaging of biomolecules.
[00:14.54]Goran Hansson is Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
[00:23.32]He announced the names of the winners Wednesday from the group’s headquarters in Stockholm.
[00:30.60]"The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson.”
[00:46.94]Hansson said the scientists were being recognized for what he described as “a cool method for imaging the molecules of life.”
[01:00.41]Jacques Dubochet works at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.
[01:07.44]Joachim Frank is with Columbia University in the United States.
[01:13.93]Richard Henderson is with Britain’s Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.
[01:25.31]The three scientists developed a way to create three-dimensional (3D) images of biological molecules – images with height, width and depth. Their method is called cryo-electron microscopy.
[01:45.64]The Royal Swedish Academy described cryo-electron microscopy as “decisive for both the basic understanding of life’s chemistry and for the development” of new medicines.
[02:03.47]Scientists long believed that electron microscopes could only be used to study non-living things.
[02:14.62]The reason? Their powerful electron beam destroys biological material.
[02:22.74]But cryo-technology freezes the biological material, keeping it at extremely low temperatures.
[02:33.75]This protects it from damage.
[02:37.43]The power of the technology could be seen in the Zika crisis last year.
[02:44.21]Zika virus was linked to an increase in brain-damaged babies in Brazil.
[02:51.47]The virus spreads when an infected mosquito bites a pregnant woman.
[02:59.32]As concerns about Zika spread, scientists turned to cryo-electronic microscopy to make 3-D images of the virus at the atomic level.
[03:15.11]This helped researchers as they worked to create drugs and vaccines.
[03:22.20]The Nobel committee noted Wednesday that, in 1990, Henderson used an electron microscope to produce a 3-D image of a protein at atomic-level resolution.
[03:39.45]In the late 1970s and 1980s, Frank developed mathematical models to sharpen images from such microscopes.
[03:51.90]Dubochet added water to electron microscopy.
[03:57.32]He cooled water so quickly that it solidified in its liquid form around biological material.
[04:07.36]The process formed a kind of glass instead of ice.
[04:13.58]As a result, the biomolecules were able to keep their natural shape.
[04:21.29]The three scientists will share the $1.1 million prize.
[04:27.46]The Nobel prizes are named after the Swedish engineer Alfred Nobel.
[04:34.68]He was the inventor of dynamite, an explosive.
[04:39.88]Nobel left $9,000,000 in his will to establish yearly prizes.
[04:47.78]He said they should go to living people who have worked most effectively to improve human life.
[04:56.36]The first awards were presented in 1901.
[05:02.15]The chemistry prize is the third Nobel announced this week.
[05:09.07]The literature winner will be named Thursday and the peace prize will be announced Friday.