On the morning of April 17th, 2023, University of Science, Việt Nam National University Hồ Chí Minh City honoured to welcome Prof. Morten P. Meldal – The winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2022. During the times in Việt Nam with Dr Phaedria St. Hilaire (his wife), Prof. Morten P. Meldal shared a public presentation on “Click Chemistry” at Lecture Hall 1 (on Nguyễn Văn Cừ Campus, District 5).


‘Click chemistry’ is a quantitative reaction of triazole generation between azide and alkyne using a copper catalyst I (CuAAC). ‘Click chemistry’ has high applications in many fields such as polymer materials (synthesis of dendrimers – tree-like polymers), in biology (synthesis and grafting of polymer chains onto macromolecules like enzymes or proteins to form hybrid materials with strong functions and applications), or in medicine (synthesis of functional polymers that change shape according to environmental conditions such as pH or temperature…).



The holder of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry also introduced four applications that he researched:

o Application 1: Combinatorial chemistry creates many different substances, to find an enzyme inhibitor to help treat leishmaniasis, an infectious disease spreading in South America at the time. The result is a compound with an inhibitory constant Ki down to 76 nM. The triazole bridging prevents the resulting inhibitor from breaking down intracellular proteases.

o Application 2: Preparation of large cyclic compounds to make ligands for receptors. The result is a ligand that is up to 300 times more selective for the MC4 receptor (melanocortin 4, a receptor implicated in obesity) than for other melanocortin receptors.

o Application 3: Creating a triazole bridge instead of a disulfide bridge of the peptide, specifically here is the antibacterial peptide Tachyplesin 1 in the form of hairpin. The resulting compound is equivalent to or more active than the original peptide and is not inactivated in bacterial media because the triazole group is not converted like the disulfide group.

o Application 4: Preparation of protease, an enzyme capable of cutting peptide bonds, making it difficult to synthesize. Instead of having to prepare the entire long peptide chain of the protease, the two fragments can be prepared and then reassembled using the ‘Click reaction’. Each fragment will be inactive until it is attached to each other, so it does not affect the protein preparation process.

Here, the professor shared: “It is my interest in finding solutions to solve a problem in life that is a great motivation for me to embark on the path of scientific research; and my family is a solid back that always supports me on the way.” From an early age, he was guided by his parents and was exposed to and immersed in nature, participating in outdoor activities; and his life partner, who share a passion for scientific research, encouraged him to overcome difficulties in the research process as well as share the joy of his achievements.

From his story, Professor Meldal emphasizes the importance of chemistry in life. At the same time, it is arousing curiosity to help young people have early access to chemistry and have the ability to find new breakthroughs in the future. Before the end of the lecture, the Professor sent to young people: “Always follow your heart and pursue what you are interested in. We will encounter obstacles many times, but just be patient, and persistent and solve each problem one by one, from small to large, we will easily overcome.”

This is the first time that the Viet Nam National University Ho Chi Minh City – University of Science welcomes a scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to visit and give lectures, creating a great opportunity for lecturers, researchers, and students inside and outside the University as well as the science-loving community have access to outstanding advances.

Pictures at the events:


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