The Nobel Prize in Chemistry rewards the technique to build molecules more efficiently

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  • The scientific award honors the work of Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless for the development of bioorthogonal chemistry

  • Sharpless has become the fifth person in history to receive two Nobel Prizes

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry rewards the technique for building molecules more efficiently

Convert turning a difficult and cumbersome job into something quick, easy and efficient is quite a challenge. Achieving it in a discipline such as chemistry is a job that, as announced this Wednesday, is worthy of a Nobel. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022 to the researchers Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless for the development of the so-called 'click chemistry', a >”simple, reliable and elegant” technique to perform more precise chemical reactions. These tools, as experts explain, could be used in the future to create more specific cancer treatments.

One of the great surprises in the delivery of this award has to do with one of the award-winning researchers. Barry Sharpless has just become the fifth person in history to receive two Nobel prizes. In 2001, the American researcher and father of 'click chemistry' also received an award. a Nobel in the category of Chemistry for his discoveries on “oxidation reactions with chiral catalysts”. With this double recognition, Sharpless follows in the footsteps of doubly awarded scientists such as John Bardeen, Marie Skłodowska Curie, Linus Pauling and Frederick Sanger.

The researcher Carolyn R. Bertozzi, meanwhile, becomes the eighth female scientist to obtain this award in the Chemistry category and the u The only female scientist to be awarded this year's Nobel Prizes. In the more than 120-year history of these awards, 180 of the 188 awarded scientists in the area of ​​Chemistry have been men. Bertozzi also stands out as the second Nobel laureate openly 'queer' and that, as a leading scientist in her discipline, she has used her loudspeaker to activism on the rights of LGBT+ people . 

Scientific revolution

The work worthy of this year's Nobel is already has meant a true “scientific revolution” in laboratories around the world, as it has provided the scientific community with a tool to build increasingly complicated molecules >quickly, easily and cheaply. This technique is already being used. using it to, for example, design drugs more efficiently. In the future, the 'chemistry of the click' aims to promote the development of more effective treatments against a wide range of pathologies.

The award has been received to applause by the scientific community.  “It is a well-deserved recognition of the incredible impact of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry in different areas of science. As a researcher working in the field of bioorthogonal chemistry applied to nanotechnology, I enthusiastically celebrate this fantastic achievement“, explains Raluca M. Fratila, “Ramón y Cajal” researcher at the University of Zaragoza, in statements to the Science Media Center Spain.

“Bertozzi's discoveries will be n very important to develop new treatments against cancer and other diseases”

Fernando Gomollón Bel

Fernando Gomollón Bel, chemist and science communicator, also defines this award as something “well deserved”. “'Click reactions' are a fundamental tool for chemists, and all three winners had been in the pools for a long time. I'm especially happy to see Carolyn Bertozzi among the winners, she expanded the applications of chemistry click to the field of biological chemistry Your discoveries will be very important for develop new treatments against cancer and other diseases” explains Gomollón Bel.

Nobel season

The chemistry prize is the third scientific awardwhich is given in this year's Nobel season. On Monday, in the category of Medicine, the prize was Swedish biologist Svante Pääbo for his discoveries about extinct hominids. On Tuesday, in the area of ​​physics, he distinguished himself. The work of researchers Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zilinger for their pioneering work in quantum physics.

Only the Nobel Prize for Literature remains to be awarded.(which will be announced on Thursday the 6th), the one for Peace (Friday the 7th) and the Economy one (Monday the 10th). Unlike what happens with scientific awards, in these categories yes. there are names that are repeated in the pools. In the category of Peace, for example, the British journalist specializing in the natural world David Attenborough, the World Health Organization and the Belarusian dissident Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya sound like strong candidates.  Also among the favorites for this award Greta Thunberg, Pope Francis and the Government of National Unity of Burma.  

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