- The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless “for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry.”
- The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022 is about making difficult processes easier. Barry Sharpless and Morten Meldal have laid the foundation for a functional form of chemistry click chemistry in which molecular building blocks snap together quickly and efficiently. Carolyn Bertozzi has taken click chemistry to a new dimension and started utilising it in living organisms.
- Barry Sharpless – who is now being awarded his second Nobel Prize in Chemistry – started the ball rolling. Around the year 2000, he 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, Morten Meldal and Barry Sharpless – independently of each other – presented what is now the crown jewel of click chemistry: the copper catalysed azide-alkyne cycloaddition. This is an elegant and efficient chemical reaction that is now in widespread use. Among many other uses, it is utilised in the development of pharmaceuticals, for mapping DNA and creating material that are more fit for purpose.
- Carolyn Bertozzi took click chemistry to a new level. To map important but elusive biomolecules on the surface of cells glycans she developed click reactions that work inside living organisms. Her bioorthogonal reactions take place without disrupting the normal chemistry of the cell.
- Click chemistry and bioorthogonal reactions have taken chemistry into the era of functionalism. This is bringing the greatest benefit to humankind.
- Then, in 2003, Carolyn Bertozzi proposed that click chemistry could be used in studies of biological systems to make it easier to observe vital cellular processes without interfering with them. Bertozzi called this “bioorthogonal” chemistry in a paper she and her colleagues published that year. The term has since been widely-adopted term in the field.
- The ability to perform complex reactions in living systems without interfering with natural biological reactions made it possible to study molecules and cellular processes in cells and inside complex organisms such as zebra fish, rather than in laboratory dishes. It has already helped scientists understand an important protein processing reaction called glycosylation, helped to develop molecular imaging molecules that could detect disease in living organisms, and opened up the possibility of selectively delivering drugs to particular tissues in the body.
Three scientists Carolyn R Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K Barry Sharpless got the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
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