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Alain Townsend, Tiong Kit Tan and Pramila Rijal among those awarded the Chemistry Biology Interface Division Horizon Prize by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Team Nanobodies has been named the winner of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemistry Biology Interface Division Horizon Prize 2022. Led by The Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxford, the team includes collaborations across the University of Oxford, Diamond Light Source, Public Health England and the University of Liverpool.

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s prizes have recognised advances in chemical science for more than 150 years. The Horizon Prizes celebrate innovation and collaboration at the cutting edge of chemical science. The 2022 prize was awarded for the collaboration that led to the development of tools to help fight COVID-19. Team Nanobodies’ research has shown that nanobodies – a smaller, simple form of antibody generated by llamas and camels – can effectively target the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. They found that short chains of the molecules, which can be produced in large quantities in the laboratory, significantly reduced signs of the Covid-19 disease when administered to infected animal models.

Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said:

“Some of the most incredible work in chemical science is carried out by teams and collaborations who use their diversity of thought, experience and skills to deliver astonishing results. These synergies are often at the very forefront of expanding our understanding of the world around us, and why our judges have such a difficult job selecting winners for our Horizon Prizes. Although we are in the midst of negotiating a particularly turbulent and challenging era, it is important to celebrate successes and advances in understanding as genuine opportunities to improve our lives. The work of Team Nanobodies is a fantastic example of why we celebrate great science; and we’re very proud to recognise their contribution today.”

The team joins a prestigious list of past-winners in the RSC’s prize portfolio, of which 50 individuals have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their work, including including 2016 Nobel laureates Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Fraser Stoddart and Ben Feringa.

Read more about the winning team and the full list of prizes on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s website.