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By A.L. Lee-Two American scientists and a third from Denmark have been awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing a molecular process that steers medicines to vulnerable areas inside the body — a groundbreaking discovery that could lead to improved cancer treatments.
Carolyn R. Bertozzi, of Stanford University; Morten Meldal, of the University of Copenhagen; and California researcher K. Barry Sharpless, won the prize for developing the method of “snapping molecules together,” a field known as click-chemistry and bio-orthogonal reactions.
The Nobel Committee for Chemistry announced the winners Wednesday at The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden.
Bertozzi described “click therapy” as a major advancement in “drug delivery,” which involves “doing chemistry inside living patients to make sure drugs go to the right place and not the wrong place,” according to The New York Times.
“Click chemistry is almost like it sounds,” explained Johan Aqvist, the chairman of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry. “It’s all about snapping molecules together. Imagine that you could attach small chemical buckles to different types of building blocks. Then you could link these buckles together and produce molecules of greater complexity and variation.”
Bertozzi becomes the eighth woman to ever receive a Nobel Prize, while Sharpless is now the fifth scientist who has won a second Nobel Prize in his lifetime, the committee said in a press release.
In 2001, he won the chemistry prize with two other scientists for discovering the process of asymmetric hydrogenation, a chemical reaction that allows bonding between hydrogen atoms and other molecules.
Each year in October, the Nobel committees in Sweden and Norway announce the Nobel laureates for contributions in the fields of science, literature, economics, and peace efforts.
Each of this year’s winners will receive a cash award of nearly $1 million, along with the iconic gold medal that features the profile of 19th century Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel.
Notable winners of the peace prize include Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King Jr., Al Gore, and former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, who died in August at 91.
This year’s announcements began Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo winning the Nobel Prize in medicine for his research that proved a genetic link between humans and ancient Neanderthals.
Then Tuesday, three scientists won the Physics award for half a century of independent research that delivered new understanding into the behavior of tiny particles that form the foundations of the universe. The award for literature will be presented Friday, followed by the economics prize on Oct. 10. (UPI)