Three scientists win Nobel for chemistry ‘Lego’

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has gone to three scientists for their work on linking molecules together, known as «click» chemistry.

Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal, and Barry Sharpless’ work allows molecules to link together, like Lego pieces.

It is used in developing cancer treatments and directly targeting tumour cells.

The work transformed how chemistry can be done, making it simpler and more effective.

Carolyn Bertozzi, who pioneered bioorthogonal chemistry that links living cells, is the eighth woman to win the Chemistry Nobel.

«I’m absolutely stunned. I can hardly breathe,» Professor Bertozzi said from the US when the Nobel Committee called her in the middle of the night.

Professor Barry Sharpless, also from the US, has now won the Nobel Prize twice. The first time was in 2001 for chiral catalysts.

Professor Morten Meldal, from Denmark, told the BBC’s Newshour programme he was «shaking for half an hour» after he found out he won.foundations of «click» chemistry.

To understand it, think about how Lego works. One piece has bumps and one piece has holes. You press them together and they click to join.

Professor Alison Hulme at University of Edinburgh, UK, explains that the same process applies in click chemistry.

«Two chemical partners are perfectly designed to match each other so that when they come into contact with each other in the right environment, they just click together,» she told BBC News.

But at first it could not be used in living cells – essential for understanding disease – because it involved the use of copper which kills cells.

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