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Friday, December 2, 2022

The “Snapping Molecules Together” Project Earns Three Chemists the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Their Work in the Field

On Wednesday, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this year was presented to a group of three scientists who developed a method of “snapping molecules together.” This method may be used to construct better medications, including ones that target illnesses such as cancer more accurately.

Researchers from the United States, Carolyn R. Bertozzi and K. Barry Sharpless, and Denmark, Morten Meldal, were recognised for their contributions to the fields of click chemistry and bioorthogonal reactions. These fields are utilised in the production of cancer drugs, the mapping of DNA, and the creation of materials that are purpose-built.

According to Aqvist, Sharpless, 81, who had previously been awarded a Nobel Prize in 2001 and is now only the fifth person to receive the award twice, came up with the concept of connecting molecules by means of chemical ‘buckles’ around the turn of the millennium. He is now the fifth person to win the award twice.

Meldal, 68, who is based at the University of Copenhagen, and Sharpless, who is affiliated with Scripps Research in California, found the first such candidates independently. These candidates would easily snap together with each other but not with other molecules, which led to applications in the manufacture of medicines and polymers. Meldal is based in Denmark, and Sharpless is affiliated with Scripps Research in California.

The committee that awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry said that Bertozzi, who is 55 years old and works at Stanford University, “taken click chemistry to a new level.”

She established a novel technique that is now known as bioorthogonal reactions after discovering a means to make the process function within live creatures without having an adverse effect on those species.

Such responses are presently used in the exploration of cells, the tracking of biological processes, and the development of medications that can more accurately target disorders such as cancer.

Bertozzi said that she was “totally astonished” to get the award when speaking by phone at a news conference that followed the announcement of the winner.

As Bertozzi explained it to The Associated Press via Zoom, one of the first people she called after being woken up by the call around 2 am was her father, William Bertozzi, a retired physicist and night owl, who was still awake watching TV. Bertozzi said her father was one of the first people she called after being woken up by the call.

Bertozzi, who is one of three daughters, said that she was “lucky” since her parents “were extremely supportive, even evangelical, about having their children engage in the sciences.” Bertozzi is one of the daughters.

Bertozzi, whose salary is provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also provides financial assistance to the Health and Science Department of The Associated Press, expressed her appreciation for the revitalization and excitement that a Nobel Prize victory would bring to the profession.

Meldal said that he had been contacted by the Nobel committee around half an hour before the news was made public. “They instructed me not to tell anybody,” he said to the Associated Press, adding that he merely sat in his office, shivering a little more than usual. “This is a really prestigious award.”

The director of the United States National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Jon Lorsch, compared click chemistry and bioorthagonal chemistry to “sort of like molecular Lego.” In click chemistry and bioorthagonal chemistry, you have a group on one molecule that specifically attaches to a group on another molecule, much like the way Lego pieces click together.

However, the earliest version of click chemistry was not able to be employed successfully on live cells when it was first developed. According to Lorsch, “the first iteration of the click chemistry used copper as a catalyst to link molecules.” The problem, however, is that copper, at larger amounts, is hazardous to the majority of biological systems.

After that, Bertozzi came up with a means to kickstart the reactions without using copper or any other harmful solvents, which allowed him to expand the uses of the molecular Lego to include human and animal tissues.

Wilson is of the opinion that the developments made by this year’s Nobel laureates will make it possible to practise more individualised treatment in the future. This is due to the fact that we can now monitor things more better inside the human body.

The prize was given to scientists Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan for their discovery of an innovative and environmentally cleaner way to build molecules. According to the panel that awarded the prize, this method is “already benefiting humankind greatly.” The prize was awarded to them the year before.

The weeklong celebration of Nobel Prize winners got out on Monday with the revelation that a Swedish researcher named Svante Paabo had won the prize in medicine for his work decoding the secrets of Neanderthal DNA, which revealed important information about our immune system.

On Tuesday, three physicists were awarded the Nobel Prize in their field. Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon that can be used for specialised computing and to encrypt information. It was discovered by the Frenchman Alain Aspect, the American John F. Clauser, and the Austrian Anton Zeilinger. They showed that tiny particles can maintain a connection with each other even when separated.

On Thursday, the honours will continue with the literary category. The winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be revealed on Friday, while the winner of the economics prize will be revealed on Monday.

On December 10, the rewards, which come with a financial award of 10 million Swedish kronor (almost 900,000 US dollars), will be distributed to the winners. The Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who was responsible for establishing the prize in 1895, left a legacy that funded the award.

A Boyle
I cover Science related topics for The National Era
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