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The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters today announced the 2024 Kavli Prize Laureates in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience. Eight scientists from three countries are honored for their research that has transformed our understanding of the big, the small and the complex. Two NAM members are among the Laureates in the Nanoscience category.

One of the most virtuous goals of science is that of preserving health and saving lives. The 2024 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience honors three individuals鈥擱obert S. Langer, Armand Paul Alivisatos, and Chad A. Mirkin鈥攚hose breakthroughs have combined nanostructured synthetic materials with biologically active molecules. They have pioneered their use in therapeutics, vaccines, bioimaging and diagnostics, contributing foundationally to the field of nanomedicine. In addition, the three laureates have contributed to the societal impact of their research by founding companies to translate their fundamental science into biomedical applications.

鈥淭he three scientists, Langer, Alivisatos, and Mirkin, have broadened the scientific field of nanoscience, building from fundamental research. By scientific curiosity they have become inventors for the future of nanoscience and biomedicine,鈥 stated Bodil Holst, Chair of the Nanoscience Committee.

Robert S. Langer (elected in 1989) had the breakthrough idea that a material could be 鈥渘ano-engineered鈥 for the controlled release of therapeutic biomolecules. While Langer鈥檚 ideas were initially received with skepticism, he showed that polymers could be synthesized to permit the regular flow of drug molecules through channels in the material. This idea has had profound impact on the development of controlled drug delivery systems. Langer鈥檚 work has had immense clinical impact for the treatment of diseases such as aggressive brain cancer (glioblastoma), prostate cancer and schizophrenia. Langer also showed, as far back as 1979, that tiny particles (in this case containing protein antigens) could be used for vaccination.

Chad A. Mirkin (elected in 2010) introduced the concept of the spherical nucleic acid (SNA) consisting of a nanoparticle core coated with a dense layer of oriented synthetic DNA or RNA. This nanoparticle-biomolecular complex gives rise to a very high binding specificity combined with a nanoparticle reporter. With SNAs, Mirkin has been able to show ultrasensitive and selective detection of proteins, DNA and RNA. This has led to a fast, automated point-of-care medical diagnostic system.

Armand Paul Alivisatos was also recognized for demonstrating that semiconductor nanocrystals, or quantum dots (nanoparticles that possess bright, size-dependent light-emitting properties), can be used as multicolor probes in bioimaging. Essential to this achievement was the synthesis of biocompatible nanocrystals. Semiconductor nanocrystals became the basis for the widely used research and diagnostic tools such as live cell tracking, labelling, and in vivo imaging.

from The Kavli Foundation.

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