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Drugs work leads to Nobel awards

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Two Americans and a Japanese scientist who worked on research for new drugs have won the 2001 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

William Knowles, K. Barry Sharpless and Ryoji Noyori worked on projects to improve control of chemical reactions, helping development of heart drugs and a treatment for Parkinson's disease. The awards were announced in Stockholm, Sweden, on Wednesday.

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"The results of their basic research are being used in a number of industrial syntheses of pharmaceutical products such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and heart medicines," said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Per Alberg, of the academy's Nobel Committee, said the three laureates had helped the development of beta-blockers, antibiotics and ulcer medicine.

"The discovery can move frontiers of research forward in medicine, chemistry and biology," Alberg told a news conference. "It's a breakthrough that started 33 years ago but the development is incremental."

Knowles, 84, from St. Louis, Missouri and now retired, and Noyori, 63, of Nagoya University, shared half of the 10 million kronor ($943,000) prize for their work on "chirally catalyzed hydrogenation reactions."

Sharpless, of the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, received the other half for his work on "chirally catalyzed oxidation reactions."

On Tuesday, Americans Eric A. Cornell and Carl E. Wieman and German-born Wolfgang won the physics award for discovering a new state of matter that could lead to super-small machines.

All Nobel prizes will be presented on December 10, the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel death in 1896. Nobel, a Swedish industrialist who invented dynamite, asked in his will for the awards to be set up to honour work that benefits mankind. They began 100 years ago.


• Nobel e-Museum

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