French chemist who, together with Charles J. Pedersen and Donald J.
Cram, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1987 for his contribution
to the laboratory synthesis of molecules that mimic the vital chemical
functions of molecules in living organisms.
Lehn expanded on Pedersen's achievement in creating crown ethers, a
class of two-dimensional, ring-shaped organic compounds that are capable
of selectively recognizing and combining with other molecules. In the
course of his efforts to synthesize three-dimensional molecules that
would possess similar reactive characteristics, Lehn created a molecule
that combines with the chemical acetylcholine, which is an important
neurotransmitter in the brain. His work raised the possibility of creating
totally artificial enzymes that would have characteristics superior
to their natural counterparts in the human body.
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