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Nobel Prize in Chemistry announced

Context:

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022 has gone t0 Carolyn R Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K Barry Sharpless, the latter winning the second Nobel of his career.

Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
  2. Significance
  3. What is Click Chemistry?
  4. Details about the work of Nobel laureates

About the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The three have been awarded for their work in ‘click chemistry’. They brought chemistry into the era of functionalism and laid the foundations of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry.

The award, announced on Wednesday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, is worth 10m Swedish krona (£804,000), and will be shared equally among the winners.

Significance:

  • Their work has applications in the field of medical science, including the treatment of cancer.
  • Click chemistry is utilised in the development of pharmaceuticals, for mapping DNA and creating materials that are more fit for the purpose.
  • Using bioorthogonal reactions, researchers have improved the targeting of cancer pharmaceuticals.
  • Bertozzi, meanwhile, has taken click chemistry to a new dime nsions and started utilising it in living organisms. Her bioorthogonal reactions take place without disrupting the normal chemistry of the cell.

What is Click Chemistry?

  • The term “click chemistry” is used to describe reactions that are fast, high-yielding and clean, meaning that they do not produce a lot of unwanted side-products.
  • It helps to develop “bioorthogonal” reactions that operate safely inside living organisms without disrupting their biochemistry.
  • The breakthrough allowed scientists to track the movement of biomolecules in cells and so tease apart the complex workings of life.

Details about the work of Nobel laureates:

  • Sharpless came up with the term ‘click chemistry’ and worked extensively on it,
  • Meldal, independently of Sharpless, came up with a special chemical structure called ‘triazole’ which has many significant applications
  • Bertozzi took the next step of developing click reactions that could work inside living organisms — ‘bioorthogonal’ reactions (a term she coined), take place living systems without interfering with native biochemical processes.
  • Bertozzi is only the eighth woman to win the chemistry prize in Nobel history.
  • While Nobel honours are rare enough, the prize puts Sharpless in the even more exclusive club of double winners. It is his second Nobel prize in chemistry, his first being in 2001 for work on “chirally catalysed oxidation reactions’.

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