December 17, 2018

Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded for using evolution to develop new chemicals

05 October 2018, 08:01 | Ross Houston

2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Frances H Arnold, George P Smith, Sir Gregory P Winter win for their work on evolutionary science

2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry goes to Americans Frances Arnold and George Smith and Britain's Gregory Winter

Arnold, the fifth woman to win the chemistry prize, is known for her work on enzymes that has assisted in more environmentally friendly production of pharmaceuticals and other substances and the production renewable fuels. "Gregory Winter used phage display for the directed evolution of antibodies, with the aim of producing new pharmaceuticals".

"Chemistry is filled with brilliant women, so I think we'll see a steady stream of Nobel prizes awarded to women", says Arnold.

Arnold won for her work conducting the directed evolution of enzymes, proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. "Since then, she has refined the methods that are now routinely used to develop new catalysts", said the release.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the year 2018 has been announced.

In the 1990s, Sir Gregory developed a new way of producing antibody proteins using a technique called "phage display" that makes use of genetically engineered viruses. It has since gone on to become a blockbuster, with sales past year of $18 billion. She's a researcher at Caltech in Pasadena, Calif.

The academy says, in recent years, the phage display method has created antibodies able to do a wide number of health-related tasks. "Making good enzymes will require a whole new level of insight, or new methodologies altogether".

Winter said he was surprised by the huge commercial success of antibody drugs, which he put down in large part to the high prices that drug companies have managed to charge for them.

As a result of her impactful research, Arnold has been recognized for her contributions in a variety of ways, including having the rare honor of being elected as a member of all three National Academies in the United States: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.

"This year's prize is about harnessing the power of evolution", said Göran K. Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, to reporters in Sweden.

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Frederick Sanger, from St John's and Fellow of King's, is one of only four individuals to have been awarded a Nobel Prize twice - he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1958 and 1980. She graduated from Princeton University in 1979 with a mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Reached at his home in Columbia, Miss., Smith was quick to credit the work of others in earning his prize.

"Very few research breakthroughs are novel. The coutnry has a certain attraction, particularly for scientists", she said.

The science and peace prizes are selected by other bodies.

In the 1980s, Arnold tried to rebuild enzymes, but because they are very complex molecules built from different amino acids that can be infinitely combined, she found it hard to remodel the enzymes' genes in order to give them new properties.

Scientists from the United States, Canada and France shared the physics prize Tuesday for revolutionizing the use of lasers in research.

On Tuesday (October 2), the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences made a decision to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 to Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland.

But, as the list of winners of the different Nobels for Physics and Chemistry show, it might be better for the Nobel Prize Committee to actually consider giving prizes for the sciences in general, instead of segregating them into Physics and Chemistry prizes and not having a biology prize.

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