Trio wins chemistry Nobel for work on antibody drugs, smart enzymes

Leslie Hanson
October 3, 2018

Arnold, of the California Institute of Technology, was recognized for performing the first-ever "directed evolution" of enzymes - proteins that catalyze chemical reactions - to see if they could be tailored to work differently, for example in new environments.

The award "wonderfully recognizes the power of harnessing protein evolution to solve a wide range of problems in the molecular sciences", says David Liu, a chemist and directed evolution expert at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This method has been used to create antibodies that can neutralize toxins such as that which causes anthrax and slows down an autoimmune disease called lupis, and even cure metastatic cancer. In 1993, she conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes, which are proteins that catalyse chemical reactions.

"At first glance it may seem that the Chemistry Nobel has been "biologised" again".

Her methods are now routinely used to develop new catalysts, in turn used for "more environmentally friendly manufacturing of chemical substances, such as pharmaceuticals, and the production of renewable fuels for a greener transport sector".

The Nobel Laureates have taken "control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefits to human kind", the committe said on its website on Tuesday.

In 1985, Professor Smith developed a method known as phage display, which... A phage is a virus that can infect bacteria in such a way as to deceive the microbes into reproducing it. Phage display is a technique that uses this process for creating and screening novel proteins.


Gregory Winter used phage display to produce new pharmaceuticals.

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

In other Nobel prizes this year, the medicine prize went Monday to James Allison of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University, who learned how to release the brakes that cancer can put on the immune system, discoveries that helped cancer doctors fight many advanced-stage tumors and save an "untold" numbers of lives.

Arnold won one half of the nine million Swedish kronor (about $1.01 million or 870,000 euros) prize, while Smith and Winter shared the other half.

The medicine prize was awarded Monday to American and Japanese researchers.

Douglas Kell, a professor of bioanalytical science at the University of Manchester, says the prize is "fantastic news".

The Nobel Prize in chemistry, which honors researchers for advances in studying how molecules combine and interact, is being announced Wednesday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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