University of Missouri Scientist shares Nobel Chemistry Prize

Nobel Prize in chemistry goes to three scientists who harnessed ‘the power of evolution’

Nobel Prize in chemistry goes to three scientists who harnessed ‘the power of evolution’

The 2018 chemistry Nobel prize has been awarded to three scientists who have developed techniques to direct the evolution of enzymes and proteins.

Sir Gregory used phage display to evolve antibodies with the aim of producing new drugs.

Strickland, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, won the prize "for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics", according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the Nobel Prize.

This year's laureates have "recreated the process in their test tubes. and make evolution many times faster".

She shared the prize with George P. Smith, a researcher at the University of Missouri, and Gregory P. Winter, at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.

Smith, 77, developed a method to evolve new proteins and Winter used the method to evolve antibodies, which are disease-fighting proteins in the blood.

Nobel chemistry laureate George Smith, reached at his home in Columbia, Missouri, was quick to credit the work of others in his prize.

After obtaining her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Princeton in 1979, Arnold worked briefly in Golden, Colorado, at the Solar Energy Research Institute - now the National Renewable Energy Laboratory - before enrolling in Berkeley's chemical engineering department to work with Blanch on biofuels.

The 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) chemistry prize is the last of this year's scientific Nobel Prizes.

Describing Arnold's contribution, the academy noted: "In 1993, she conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes, which are proteins that catalyse chemical reactions".

"Evolution is the most powerful engineering method in the world, and we should make use of it to find new biological solutions to problems", she said.

This process works by introducing fragments of an unknown gene into a bacteriophage, or a virus that infects bacteria, which then uses the instructions from the gene to construct a protein building block called a peptide and displays it on its surface. Today, phage display of antibodies can be used to treat diseases as varied as metastatic cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases and anthrax poisoning.

"What always amazes me about Frances is she's such a powerhouse - she gets so much done", said Michael Hecht, a professor of chemistry at Princeton and a longtime friend of Arnold. Their findings enabled large-scale production of specific antibodies, which have made new treatments possible for autoimmune diseases, cancer, and other conditions.

He added that he has "no idea" what he'll do with the prize money.

The first medicine based on Smith's and Winter's methods, adalimumab, also known as Humira, was approved by drug officials in 2002.

Noble Prize victor Donna Strickland smiles as she receives a standing ovation before speaking to the media during a press conference regarding her prestigious award in Waterloo, Ontario, Oct. 2, 2018.

The 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to researchers Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for their work in cryo-electron microscopy, which the academy said "both simplifies and improves the imaging of biomolecules".

The peace prize victor will be announced on Friday, followed by economics on Monday.

Arnold is only the fifth woman to be awarded the prize for Chemistry.

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