Three scientists jointly received this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for developing a method of “binding molecules together” that could be used to design better drugs.
Americans Carolyn R. Bertozzi and C. Barry Sharpless and Danish scientist Morten Milldahl have been cited for their work on click chemistry and orthogonal biological reactions, which are used to make cancer drugs, map DNA, and create custom-designed materials.
“It’s all about putting the molecules together,” said Johan Akvist, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences that announced the winners Wednesday at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.
Akvist said Sharpless, 81, who previously won the Nobel Prize in 2001 and is now the fifth person to receive the award twice, first proposed the idea of linking molecules using chemical “buckles” at the turn of the millennium.
“The problem was finding good chemical buckles,” he said. “They have to interact with each other easily and specifically.”
Meldal, 68, based at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Sharpless, affiliated with Scripps Research, California, independently found the first candidates that could pick up easily with each other but not with other molecules, leading to applications in the manufacture of drugs and polymers.
The Nobel committee said Bertozzi, 55, who is based at Stanford University in California, “has taken tap chemistry to a new level.”
She found a way to make chemical clicks work inside living things without disrupting them, and created a new method known as orthogonal reactions. Such interactions are now used to explore cells, trace biological processes, and design experimental cancer drugs that work in a more targeted manner.
Bertozzi said she was “certainly shocked” to receive the award.
“I’m still not entirely sure it’s real, but it’s getting more and more real every minute,” she said.
Meldahl said he received a call from the Nobel Committee half an hour before the public announcement.
“They (…) told me not to tell anyone. So I sat in my office and shook my pants in fear,” he told The Associated Press. “This is a great honor.”
Meldahl started as an engineer. “But I wanted to understand the world, so I thought chemistry would provide the solutions,” he told The Associated Press.
The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to a trio for their work in quantum mechanics
Three scientists jointly won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for their work in quantum information science that has important applications, for example in the field of cryptography.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Alan Aspect and John F.
“Quantum information science is a vital and rapidly developing field,” said Eva Olsson, a member of the Nobel Committee. “It has broad and potential implications in areas such as secure transmission of information, quantum computing and sensor technology.”
“Its origin can be traced back to quantum mechanics,” she said. “Her predictions have opened the doors to another world, and they have shaken the foundations of how to interpret the measurements.”
Speaking on the phone at a news conference after the announcement, Zeilinger said he was “still shocked” to hear that he had been awarded the award.
“But it’s a very positive shock,” said Zeilinger, 77, who works at the University of Vienna.
Closer, Aspect and Tessellinger have been prominent in Nobel’s speculation for more than a decade. In 2010 they won the Wolf Prize in Israel, which is seen as a possible precursor to the Nobel Prize.
While physicists often tackle problems that at first glance seem a far cry from everyday concerns — tiny particles and the vast mysteries of space and time — their research provides the foundations for the many practical applications of science.
The prize was awarded last year to three scientists – Siokoro Manabe, Klaus Hesselmann and Giorgio Baresi – whose work has helped explain and predict nature’s complex forces, thus expanding our understanding of climate change.
The Nobel Prize in Medicine for the Swede who revealed the secrets of the DNA of Neanderthals
Techniques led by Papo allowed researchers to compare the genomes of modern humans with those of other hominins – Denisovans as well as Neanderthals.
“Just as you do archaeological excavations to discover the past, we do excavations in the human genome,” he said at a press conference at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.
While Neanderthal bones were first discovered in the mid-19th century, it was by understanding their DNA – often referred to as the code of life – that scientists were able to fully understand the connections between species.
This included the time when modern humans and Neanderthals diverged as a species, about 800,000 years ago.
“Papao and his team surprisingly found that gene flow occurred from Neanderthals to Homo sapiens, showing that they had children together during periods of coexistence,” said Anna Wedel, chair of the Nobel Committee.
Gene transfer between hominin species affects how the modern human immune system reacts to infections, such as the coronavirus. People outside Africa have 1-2% of Neanderthal genes. Neanderthals were never in Africa, so there is no known direct contribution to people in sub-Saharan Africa.
Papo and his team were able to extract DNA from a small finger bone found in a Siberian cave, which led to the identification of a new species of ancient humans they called Denisovans.
Weddell called it an “exciting discovery” that showed Neanderthals and Denisovans were sister groups that separated from each other about 600,000 years ago. Denisovan genes are found in up to 6 percent of modern humans in Asia and Southeast Asia, suggesting that interbreeding occurred there as well.
“By mixing with them after migrating from Africa, Homo sapiens picked up sequences that improved their chances of survival in their new environments,” Wedel said. For example, Tibetans and Denisovans share a gene that helps them adapt to higher altitudes.
Babu said he was surprised to learn of his victory, and at first thought it was an elaborate joke by his teammates or a call about his summer home in Sweden.
“So I was having my last cup of tea to go and take my daughter to the nanny where she stayed for one night, and then I got this call from Sweden,” he said in an interview on the Nobel Prizes homepage. . I thought, ‘Oh, the lawn mower broke or something’ at the summer house.
He also wondered what would have happened if Neanderthals survived another 40,000 years.
“Will we see worse racism against Neanderthals, because they were somewhat different from us? Or will we see our place in the living world in a completely different way when we have other forms of humans very similar to us but different.”
Babu, 67, has conducted his award-winning studies at the University of Munich and the Max Planck Institute. During the festivities that followed the press conference in Leipzig, his colleagues threw him into a pool. Paabo took it in good humor, splashing his feet and laughing.
Papo’s father, Sonny Bergstrom, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1982, the eighth time the son or daughter of a Nobel laureate has won. In his book Neanderthals: In Search of the Lost Genome, Babu described himself as Bergstrom’s “secret extramarital son” – something he also briefly mentioned on Monday.
He said his father had a “great interest” in his work, but that his mother had more than encouraged him.
“The biggest influence in my life was definitely my mother, who I grew up with,” he said in an interview with Noble. “And in a sense, I’m a little sad that she can’t experience this day. She’s been kind of in the sciences, and she’s motivated and encouraged me a lot over the years.”