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Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded for functional form of building molecules

It is reported that this is the second Nobel Prize for Sharpless

STOCKHOLM, October 5. /TASS/. The 2022 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to a group of scientists, US nationals Carolyn Bertozzi and Barry Sharpless and Denmark’s Morten Meldal, the Nobel Committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on Wednesday.

The scientists were awarded "for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry," the committee’s statement reads. According to it, the researchers "have laid the foundation for a functional form of chemistry - click chemistry - in which molecular building blocks snap together quickly and efficiently."

"This year’s Prize in Chemistry deals with not overcomplicating matters, instead working with what is easy and simple. Functional molecules can be built even by taking a straightforward route," says Johan Aqvist, Chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

This is the second Nobel Prize for Sharpless. He has already won it in 2001 for his work on chirally catalysed oxidation reactions important in developing pharmaceutical products with another half of the prize going to US national William Knowles and Japan’s Ryoji Noyori for their work on chirally catalysed hydrogenation reactions.

Around 2000, Sharpless coined 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 afterwards, he and Meldal, independently of each other, presented what is now considered the crown jewel of click chemistry: the copper catalysed azide-alkyne cycloaddition which is an efficient chemical reaction that is now in widespread use. Among other things, it is utilized in the development of pharmaceuticals, for mapping DNA and creating materials that are more suited for a specific purpose.

Bertozzi took click chemistry to a new level. In order to map glycans, important but elusive biomolecules on the surface of cells, she developed click reactions that work inside living organisms. Her bioorthogonal reactions take place without disrupting the normal chemistry of the cell.

Nowadays, these reactions are used globally to explore cells and track biological processes. Using bioorthogonal reactions, researchers have improved the targeting of cancer pharmaceuticals, which are now undergoing clinical trials.