Nobel in Chemistry for the two scientists of mirror-molecules. How did they affect the medication?
Two scientists have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021 for their work in building molecules that are mirrors of each other.
Germany-born Benjamin List and Scotland-born David MacMillan were declared the winners during the event held in Stockholm. Their discovery has been used to discover new drugs and create molecules that can capture light in solar cells.
The technique, called asymmetric organocatalysis, has made the production of asymmetric molecules much easier. They are specifically chemicals that exist in two versions, where one is a mirror of the other.
Chemists often require only one of these 'mirror images' —especially when producing medicines but it has been difficult to find effective methods for doing so. Some molecules that exist in versions of 'mirrors' have different properties, increasing the possibility that they may produce different effects if consumed by humans.
An example of where this scheme went wrong was with the drug thalidomide in the 1950s and 60s. The drug was withdrawn from the market when it was discovered that disability in newborns due to consumption by mothers.
The thalidomide treatment contained two mirror versions of the same chemical compound that were mixed together. One of these versions harmed the developing fetus.
The scientists' work focused on catalysts, substances that can accelerate chemical reactions without becoming part of the final product.
* BBC article, translated and adapted into Albanian by Tiranapost.al.