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Euler, Ulf Svante von

system isolated nobel physiologist

[oy ler] (1905–83) Swedish physiologist.

Son of a physiologist who won a Nobel Prize in chemistry, von Euler was a student and later a professor at the Royal Caroline Institute in Stockholm. In 1903 T R Elliott (1877–1961) of Cambridge made the novel suggestion, based on experiments, that nerve transmission is at least partly chemical. For a time this idea was largely ignored but it led to later successes by and by O Loewi (1873–1961) and in 1946 von Euler isolated a neurotransmitter of the sympathetic nervous system and showed it to be noradrenalin, and not adrenalin as had been believed. Already, in 1935, he had initiated work in another area by showing that human semen contained a potent chemical, which lowered blood pressure and contracted muscle, which he named prostaglandin. (BERGSTROM later isolated two prostaglandins; more are now known and they form an important biochemical group.) Von Euler shared a Nobel Prize in 1970 with Julius Axelrod (1912– ), US neuropharmacologist, and (Sir) Bernard Katz (1911– ), German–British biophysicist, both of whom worked on neurotransmitters, and especially on the way these chemicals are stored, released and deactivated in the nervous system.

[back] Euler, Leonhard

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