The cause of science | Business Standard Editorials

The 2022 Nobels afford recognition to a trio that dramatically improved chemical molecular manufacturing processes, another trio that gave us deep insights into quantum mechanics, and an individual who developed ways to sequence the genomes of extinct human species. While the basic in all these cases may seem esoteric, these discoveries all have direct practical applications that have improved our lives in many ways. The chemistry prize, for instance, went to Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal, and Barry Sharpless (who also won a chemistry Nobel in 2001) for “the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry”. In layman terms, click chemistry is the art of inducing quick reactions without unwanted by-products. Bioorthogonal chemistry is a method of doing click chemistry within living cells without disrupting the normal functions of the cell. These processes enable scientists to quickly and cheaply build new molecules which can be studied intensively. It is of enormous utility when it comes to pharmaceutical research both in generating new drugs and when studying the impact of, say, cancer drugs on cells using the bioorthogonal approach.

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