Briton and two Americans win 2018 Nobel Chemistry Prize

04 October, 2018, 08:40 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • Biochemical engineer Frances Arnold receives the Millennium Technology Prize 2016 during the awards ceremony in Helsinki Finland. Arnold an American shares this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry with two others another American George P. Smith and

This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to three researchers whose pioneering work with proteins has, in the words of one committee member, "applied the principles of Darwin in the test tube".

The researchers have "taken control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind", the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Wednesday in a statement.

Arnold is a professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

In a conversation in her office one day, I said that I wanted to do work on protein evolution.

Her research on enzymes - proteins that catalyze chemical reactions - laid the bedrock for the development of better industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The first KFP laureates to get the Nobel Prize were Gerd Binnig from Germany and Heinrich Rohrer from Switzerland, who won the KFP in Science in 1984, two years ahead of their Nobel in 1986. Smith won for developing a phage display method where bacteriophages evolve the new proteins. Newly created antibodies can make some poisonous substances safe, fight autoimmune diseases and even cure some forms of cancer.

The academy says, in recent years, the phage display method has created antibodies able to do a wide number of health-related tasks. Instead of waiting for random mutations to creep into genetic code over thousands of generations, Arnold works with bacteria - which produces a new generation in about 20 minutes - and chooses which traits to breed together.

The first pharmaceutical created using this method was adalimumab, approved for use in 2002, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Arnold, reached by telephone at an airport in Dallas, told the AP: "I predict that we will see many more Nobel chemistry prizes for women". They were the wish of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who established the organization that provides money for the prizes. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry on October 3.

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That setback set the stage for a new vision - using evolution to redesign enzymes for use in biotechnology - that earned Arnold the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry today. That's when she made the shift to what is known as directed evolution.

He concludes, "Very few research breakthroughs are novel".

He built up a collection of phages, with billions of antibody varieties on their surface, and engineered them make them more effective.

"There are enzymes now in detergents that we use in our dishwasher and have been evolved by this process".

"My sense is that women often work towards the collective good and often may sacrifice their individual career for advancing the community", she said.

Dr Smith, 77, was a professor for 40 years at the University of Missouri at the Division of Biological Sciences.

The victor of the Nobel Peace Prize is to be announced Friday.

Earlier this week, two immunologists, James Allison of the United States and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won the Nobel Medicine Prize for research into how the body's natural defences can fight cancer. These scientists were selected for their groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics.

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