Scientists Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and Barry Sharpless have won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering reactions that let molecular building blocks snap together to efficiently create new desired compounds.
The technologies known as click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry are now used globally to explore cells and track biological processes, the award-giving body said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Using bioorthogonal reactions, researchers have improved the targeting of cancer pharmaceuticals, which are now being tested in clinical trials,” it added.
The prize was awarded on Wednesday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($915,000).
The third of the Nobel prizes – unveiled over six consecutive weekdays – the chemistry Nobel follows those for medicine and physics announced earlier this week.
Past chemistry winners include well-known scientific names such as Marie Curie, who also shared the physics prize with her husband and whose eldest daughter, Irene Joliot-Curie, won the chemistry award just over 20 years after her mother.
The 2021 chemistry award was won by Scottish-born David MacMillan and German Benjamin List for their work in creating new tools to build molecules, aiding in the development of new drugs as well as products such as plastics.
The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were established in the will of Swedish dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel, himself a chemist, and have been awarded since 1901. Economics was added later.
The prizes have been awarded every year with a few interruptions, primarily for the world wars, and made no break for the COVID-19 pandemic though much of the pageantry and events were put on hold or temporarily moved online.