• Wolf Prize in Chemistry celebrates discovery in Bioactive Peptides
    Professor Hiroaki Suga, (credit: University of Tokyo)

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Wolf Prize in Chemistry celebrates discovery in Bioactive Peptides

Feb 17 2023

Professor Hiroaki Suga of the University of Tokyo, is one of the joint recipients of the 2023 Wolf Prize in Chemistry, for developing RNA-based catalysts that revolutionised the discovery of bioactive peptides.
Suga, a member of the Department of Chemistry at the Graduate School of Science, will receive the prize alongside Professors Chuan He, of the University of Chicago for discovering reversible RNA methylation and its role in the regulation of gene expression; and Jeffery W. Kelly of the Scripps Research Institute in the US for developing a clinical strategy to ameliorate pathological protein aggregation.  

The Wolf Foundation awarded the prize for their “pioneering discoveries that illuminate the functions and pathological dysfunctions of RNA and proteins and for creating strategies to harness the capabilities of these biopolymers in new ways to ameliorate human diseases.”
Awarded annually since 1978 by Israel’s Wolf Foundation to scientists and artists who have achieved international excellence in chemistry, agriculture, mathematics, medicine, physics and the arts, the Wolf Prize prize includes a monetary award of $100,000.
“I am very honoured to receive the prestigious Wolf Prize,” Suga said. “This award is not just for me but is shared with all past and present members of the Suga Laboratory. Without the hours, days and years of dedication they have poured into research, I would not have received this recognition. I would like to thank everyone in my lab, as well as my family, friends and colleagues for giving me this opportunity.”
Utilising organic chemistry and biology approaches to novel drug discovery he developed technology using flexizyme, an RNA-based catalyst he invented, that expands the range of amino acids for incorporation into ribosomally synthesized peptides to produce peptides of therapeutic potential. His team also developed the RaPID selection system for rapid screening of over a trillion macrocyclic peptides for potential targets. The technologies led to the founding of startups PeptiDream (employing flexizyme technology) and RaPID for discovery and development of peptides.

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This work has also been recognised with the Prime Minister’s Award, Nippon Venture Award (2016) and EY World Entrepreneur of the Year (2020), among other accolades.

In addition to the Wolf Prize, the Wolf Foundation promotes leading young Israeli scientists, young Israeli artists and Israeli students for their excellent achievements.

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