The Nobel Academy has awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry to two Americans, for helping to unravel the mystery of how the body regulates the flow of substances in and out of cells.

Peter Agre and Roderick MacKinnon were awarded the 2003 prize in chemistry for discovering and elucidating the structure of water and ion channels in the cell membrane, work that may one day aid in the development of future drugs that act on these channels.

Agre, born in 1949, is professor of Biological Chemistry and professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Although scientists have long known that maintaining the proper water pressure within cell walls is essential for survival, it was not until 1988 that Agre isolated a protein in the cell membrane that he later discovered to be the channel that passes water in and out of the cell.

Agre's long-awaited discovery...

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