Nobel prize in chemistry awarded for reliable molecule-building tool

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The 2022 Nobel prize for chemistry has been jointly awarded to Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless for their development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry

for the development of click chemistry – linking molecules together – and bioorthogonal chemistry, which allows such reactions to happen in living cells.

“Click chemistry is chemistry based on specific reactions that work very efficiently and are very reliable to generate robust yields of products,” said, a member of the Nobel Committee, during the announcement. “You can essentially snap together two molecule building blocks in a very efficient and predictive way to get a lot of product.”

“Click chemistry has applications in pharmaceutical development, in DNA sequencing… and in the production of new materials,” he said. “Bioorthogonal reactions have helped with exploring the roles of biomolecules in cells and organisms, have helped with deciphering disease processes, and of course that can lead to the development of new drugs.”Sharpless, along with his team, first proposed the idea of click chemistry in 2001.

Other researchers are using “clickable antibodies” to help target lethal doses of radiation to tumour cells. “I am absolutely stunned. I’m sitting here and can hardly breathe. I’m still not entirely positive it’s real but it’s getting realer by the minute,” said Bertozzi in response to the news she had won.


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