Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Trio awarded Nobel Prize for Chemistry

The trio used the same principles of evolution- genetic change and selection- to develop proteins used in a range of fields 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry goes to Americans Frances Arnold and George Smith and Britain's Gregory Winter
Frank Williams | 05 October, 2018, 21:00

Frances Arnold of the California Institute of Technology will receive half the prize, worth about $1 million.

"Her work is incredible", Matt Hartings, an associate chemistry professor at American University, told The Associated Press.

He said Arnold's development of an enzyme that can promote chemical reactions involving silicon was also a startling accomplishment, "completely bonkers".

Alfred Nobel, who created the prizes in his will, was himself a chemist, and devised his famed awards in part to atone for inventing dynamite. "We need to celebrate women physicists because we're out there, and hopefully in time it'll start to move forward at a faster rate".

All three "have taken control of evolution", using the principles of genetic change and selection to create proteins, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences wrote in its announcement.

Winter, of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, then harnessed that method and used it to direct the evolution of new antibodies - immune proteins that bind to and neutralize pathogens such as bacteria or viruses - with the aim of making new drugs.

The trio won for harnessing the power of evolution to produce novel proteins used in everything from environmentally friendly detergents and biofuels to cancer drugs. "But there was so much static on the line, I knew it wasn't any of my friends", he said. What's more, if known proteins were engineered to appear on the phage, scientists could see which genes were involved. "She's not just exploring protein engineering because it's cool, or because she's interested in the origin of life, but she's exploring it because she's trying to make something that's useful to people".

Frances Arnold becomes the fifth woman to win the Nobel prize in Chemistry.

"I'm sure that there are people who are skeptical that a woman can do this job as well as a man", Arnold continued, adding, "I am blissfully unaware of such people - and have been gifted with the ability to ignore them completely".

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"This year's prize is harnessing the power of evolution".

In a short speech, she gave credit to her "inspiring" research team.

"No human can design a good enzyme, yet we are surrounded by them after 3.5 billion years of work by evolution", she told Chemistry World in April.

Robinson said Wednesday that directed evolution of enzymes and antibody technology "are now transforming medicine".

The academy described the process as being similar to biological evolution.

While laser eye surgery is the most familiar application of their work, it has also let scientists probe fundamental forces acting within matter at very high temperatures and pressures, Mr Moloney said. "It is a routine tool, now, used in genetic engineering, and she was the first to think of it".

"The use of antibodies has resulted in a paradigm shift in the way that we now treat so many diseases which has brought significant benefits to patients across the world and will continue to do so for years to come", he said. I think Frances was certainly met with a degree of resistance at the time.

Smith, 77, was a professor for 40 years at the University of Missouri at the Division of Biological Sciences. "Is that the kind of work that people will want to fund?", she asked. And so she realized the thing to do was to use randomness. Currently, her main area of focus is the production of renewable energy, with a long-term goal of creating environmentally-friendly fuel that will revolutionize the transportation sector.

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