- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
In announcing the Horizon Team Award on June 8, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) applauded the 47 worldwide collaborators “for the development of multidimensional click chemistry, a next-generation click-technology that extends perfect bond creation into the three-dimensional world, opening doors to new frontiers in biomedicine, materials science, and beyond.” (See list of winners. See Horizon Team award winners)
K. Barry Sharpless of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, who won the 2001 Nobel Prize for Sharpless epoxidation, led the team. “His magic is like the click- chemistry he invented,” said Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The scientists from UC Davis also include researcher Christophe Morisseau of the Hammock lab and Seiya Kitamura, who completed his doctorate in the UC Davis Pharmacology/Toxicology Graduate Group working with Hammock and Morisseau before starting a postdoctoral position at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla.
Morisseau described click-chemistry “as such a ubiquitous tool in multiple aspects of science that kits are sold and the chemistry utilized without even recognizing where it comes from. Many of the beautiful and informative fluorescent pictures of cells on journal covers are based on click chemistry.”
The list of the team members reads like a Who's Who of modern organic chemistry at multiple stages of their careers, Hammock noted.
Hammock said his involvement in click chemistry started when he was on sabbatical leave at UC San Diego. “Barry explained to me how one could use the SF bonds of SOF4 and related compounds to make additions one at a time and create a defined three-dimensional molecule with high precision. The potential of these reagents to design new pharmaceuticals and agricultural products was really exciting. Thus, our contribution was being there at the right time to show translation into the real world.”
“Seiya did amazing work showing the utility of this reaction,” Hammock said. “He is continuing to work with Drs. Wang and Morisseau at UC Davis on using another concept in modern medicinal chemistry called PROTAC to investigate cell biology.”
“Click-chemistry and particularly the copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne-Huisgen cycloaddition (CuAAC), has had a profound impact on drug discovery (for which it was intended),” the team wrote in the award packet. “It is now the 'go-to' technology in every corner of molecular science. The introduction of Sulfur(VI) fluoride exchange (SuFEx) in 2014 opened up a whole new world of possibilities for reliable bond-forming technology, particularly for chemical biology applications where the fugacity of sulfur-fluoride functional groups are primed for selective covalent bond formation with active protein sites.”
The team will receive a trophy and each member will receive a certificate. John Moses of the Cancer Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, submitted the nomination on behalf of the team.
The RSC Horizon Prizes “highlight the most exciting, contemporary chemical science at the cutting edge of research and innovation,” according to its website. “These prizes are for teams or collaborations who are opening up new directions and possibilities in their field, through ground-breaking scientific developments."
The mission of the London-based RSC, founded in 1841, is to advance excellence in the chemical sciences. The organization includes physicians, academics, manufacturers and entrepreneurs. Dialysis inventor Thomas Graham served as its first president.
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