10/06/2010, 00.00
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Two Japanese and an American win the Nobel Prize in chemistry

The trio win for their development of a palladium-based process used in the fight against cancer and in electronics. Japanese PM Kan offers his congratulations.

Stockholm (AsiaNews/ Agencies) – Two Japanese researchers, Eiichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki, and an American, Richard Heck, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their development of palladium-catalysed cross couplings in organic systems, which have allowed scientists to make medicines and better electronics.

Negishi, 75, is a chemistry professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and 80-year-old Suzuki is a professor at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. Heck, 79, is a professor emeritus at the University of Delaware.

In Japan, news about the prize was the talk of the country. Prime Minister Naoto Kan spoke to Suzuki on the phone and congratulated him.

“He told me that Japan’s science and technology is at the world’s top level and encouraged me to make good use of the resources,” Kan said.

The method developed by the Nobel winners has been used to produce artificially cancer-killing substances first found in marine sponges, the academy said in its citation.

Whilst clinical tests have started, it is not yet clear whether the drugs that might be developed will turn out to be useful for humans.

By contrast, the electronics industry has already used palladium-catalysed cross coupling to make light-emitting diodes used in the production of extremely thin monitors.

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