The work of this year’s winners “pushes the frontiers (of chemistry) and has a great impact on science and society”, says the award.
Scientists Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless are the winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing click chemistry, which has improved the targeting of cancer drugs, the Swedish Academy of Sciences announced at Stockholm.
This year’s Nobel Prize honors “the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry,” said the academy, which said that with their work, the laureates have contributed to the improvement of cancer drugs.
The work of this year’s winners “pushes the frontiers (of chemistry) and has a great impact on science and society”.
“Click chemistry is used in pharmaceutical development, to map DNA and create materials that are more fit for purpose. By using bioorthogonal reactions, researchers have improved the targeting of anti-cancer pharmaceuticals.”, Swedish Academy.
The award recognizes, the academy added, work that “makes difficult processes easier. Click chemistry and bioorthogonal reactions have ushered chemistry into the era of functionalism”.
This year’s winners “have laid the foundation for a form of functional chemistry, click chemistry, in which molecular building blocks are assembled quickly and efficiently.”
Bertozzi, in particular, “brought click chemistry to a new dimension and began to use it in living organisms. Its bioorthogonal reactions proceed without disturbing the normal chemistry of the cell.”
The Swedish academy recalled that “for a long time, chemists have been driven by the desire to construct ever more complicated molecules. In pharmaceutical research, this has often involved the artificial recreation of natural molecules with medicinal properties”.
This has resulted in many admirable molecular constructs, but they are usually time-consuming and very expensive to produce, the academy added in the statement released when the names of the winners were announced.
Sharpless, now receiving his second Nobel Prize in Chemistry, has begun “to get the ball rolling”, the Academy graphically estimated, recalling that around the year he invented the concept of click chemistry, which is a form of simple and reliable chemistry, where reactions occur quickly and unwanted by-products are avoided.
Shortly thereafter, Meldal and Sharpless, independently of each other, presented what is today the crown jewel of click chemistry: the copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition.
“This is an elegant and efficient chemical reaction that is now widely used. Among many other uses, it is used in the development of pharmaceuticals, to map DNA, and to create materials more suitable for use. “, explained the Academy.
Bertozzi has taken click chemistry to a new level. To map important but elusive biomolecules on the surface of cells (glycans), he developed click reactions that work inside living organisms. Its bioorthogonal reactions proceed without altering the cell’s normal chemistry, the institution officials added.
“This year’s Chemistry Prize tries not to complicate things too much, but to work with what is easy and simple. Functional molecules can be built even following a direct path,” said Johan Åqvist, chairman of the committee. Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Today’s prize is the latest among science prizes in the Nobel cycle, after the medicine prize was revealed on Monday and the physics prize yesterday, Tuesday. The announcements will continue on Thursday with that of Literature, Friday that of Peace will be announced and next Monday that of Economy.
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