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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2012 has been awarded to Robert Lefkowitz (left), Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Duke University, USA, and Brian Kobilka (right), Stanford University, USA, for their work on G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs).
GPCRs are members of the family of integral membrane proteins (IMPs), which mediate the transfer of material and signals between the environment and the cytoplasm. There are about 1,000 GPCRs in the human body, all of which have similar molecular structures, defined by an amino acid sequence which crosses the plasma membrane seven times. This similarity means GPCRs can be effectively targeted and today as many as 30–50 % of all prescription drugs are designed to "fit" these structures. This has led to new anti-histamines, ulcer drugs, and beta blockers that help relieve hypertension, angina, and coronary disease.