Originally created 10/10/00

Scientists win Nobel Prize for medicine



STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Arvid Carlsson is rewarded for his discovery that dopamine is a transmitter in the brain and that is has great importance for our ability to control movements. Carlsson performed a series of pioneering studies during the late 1950s. Carlsson used a naturally occurring substance, reserpine, which depletes the storage of several synaptic transmitters. He realized that the symptoms caused by reserpine were similar to the syndrome of Parkinson's disease.

As a consequence L-dopa was developed as a drug against Parkinson's disease and today is still the most important treatment of the disease. The discoveries of Arvid Carlsson have had great importance for the treatment of depression, which is one of our most common diseases.

Paul Greengard is rewarded for his discovery of how dopamine and a number of other transmitters exert their action in the nervous system. Towards the end of the 1960s it was known that dopamine, nonadrenaline and serotonin were transmitters in the central nervous system but knowledge about their mechanism of action was lacking. Greengard (discovered) how they exert their effects at the synapse.

Paul Greengard's discoveries concerning protein phosphorylation have increased our understanding of the mechanism of action of several drugs, which specifically affects phosphorylation of proteins in different nerve cells.

Eric Kandel is rewarded for his discoveries of how the efficiency of synapses can be modified, and which molecular mechanisms take part. Kandel started to study learning and memory in mammals, but realized the conditions were too complex ... and therefore decided to investigate a simpler experimental model, the nervous system of a sea slug. With the nervous system of a sea slug ... he has demonstrated how changes of synaptic function are central for learning and memory.

Even if the road towards an understanding of complex memory functions still is long, the results of Eric Kandel have provided a critical building stone.