ION CHANNELS AND CHANNELOPATHIES
Since the discovery of ion channels in 1970s, the aetiology of many diseases has been traced back to channelopathies. Many toxins produced by snakes, fish, spiders and other insects paralyse the ion channels. Many physiological mechanisms have been studied at molecular level and have confirmed the involvement of ion channels. The ion channels are the recent target sites for pharmaceutical biosynthesis of new drugs. Ion channels have been classified according to the type of gating, number of gates and species of ions passing through them.
The hypothetical existence of ion channels was described for the first time in 1952 by British biophysicists; Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley to support their noble winning theory of nerve impulse. In 1970s, the existence of ion channels was confirmed by the invention of â€˜patch clampâ€™ technique by Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann who won a Nobel Prize for it. In 2003, the Nobel Prize was awarded to American scientists, Roderick MacKinon and Peter Agre for their x-ray crystallographic structure studies on ion channels and Aquaporins respectively.
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