Three scientists were given the Nobel Prize for their work in click chemistry,

Three scientists were given the Nobel Prize for their work in click chemistry, which swiftly connects molecules.

Three scientists were given the Nobel Prize for their work in click chemistry, which swiftly connects molecules.
During a news conference in Stockholm, members of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry reveal the winners of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Carolyn R. Bertozzi (US), Morten Meldal (Denmark), and K. Barry Sharpless (US). (Tt News Agency/Via Reuters)

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to three researchers for their work in click and bioorthogonal chemistry, which enables the linking of molecular building blocks to produce complex molecules that have significant ramifications for pharmaceutical research, medical advancement, and material sciences.

The prize was given to three individuals: Morten Meldal from Denmark at the University of Copenhagen, K. Barry Sharpless from Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, and Carolyn Bertozzi from Stanford University.

Sharpless, a two-time Nobel laureate, and Meldal pioneered the discipline of click chemistry, in which molecular building blocks are swiftly and effectively bonded together. Bertozzi exploited these breakthroughs by developing bioorthogonal chemistry, which allows scientists to change molecules in live creatures without affecting cell functions.

"I'm completely taken aback. "I'm sitting here and can scarcely breathe," said Bertozzi, the ninth woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. "I'm still not fully certain it's true."

The award recognized art that evolved in phases. Sharpless and Meldal's study, which was done independently, employed copper as a catalyst to link molecules, which was successful but poisonous at larger quantities. Bertozzi devised a technology that did not require copper catalysts and allowed scientists to change molecules in living creatures without interfering with cell functions.

According to Tom Brown, professor of Nucleic Acid Chemistry at the University of Oxford, the notion of click chemistry has proved "transformative" in several fields of chemistry, materials science, biology, and medicine. "It has given rise to new highly functional materials, catalyzed significant medicinal breakthroughs, and has had an impact on many fields of chemical biology."

Bertozzi's approach has been compared to a trap that snaps shut once the animal is inside, according to Jon Lorsch, head of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. "When the partner molecule enters, it clamps shut and acts only on the partner molecule."

The three prize winners' work has already received "a large number of submissions." "It's used to build molecules of various sizes in order to construct massive (chemical) libraries that can be utilized to screen for medications," Lorsch explained.

Scientists may also attach dye to a molecule and monitor where it moves and what it does, such as when a virus enters a cell. "Most chemists would have told you that work of this significance ought to be recognized," Lorsch noted.

Sharpless, 81, became the sixth person in history to receive two Nobel Prizes, joining the ranks of pioneering chemists Marie Curie and Frederick Sanger. His last award was given in 2001 "for his work on chirally catalyzed oxidation processes," a method that has allowed for the production of safer and more effective antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, heart treatments, and agricultural compounds.

The winners of the award from the previous year were Benjamin List of the Max Planck Institute in Germany and David W.C. MacMillan of Princeton University for their work on organocatalysis, a novel, more environmentally friendly method of creating molecules that has applications in the creation of drugs, chemicals, and a variety of everyday products.

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