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Nobel Prize 2018 winners: See who has been honored in Chemistry?
Chemistry Nobel Prize awarded for harnessing evolution to help humans
The Nobel Prize is a set of six annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances. The will of the Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel established the prizes in 1895. The prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine were first awarded in 1901.This year, The Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to three scientists who have harnessed the power of evolution to develop biological molecules with useful applications and solve some of the world's worst problems. The 2018 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have taken control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind. Evolution has meant that the world is full of a huge variety of different forms of life because it has allowed organisms to respond to the chemical problems that surround them in their environment. The three scientists who won used those same processes to solve the problems facing humans.
On Tuesday, researchers from the United States, Canada, and France were awarded the physics prize for advances in laser technologies. The medicine prize was awarded Monday to American and Japanese researchers. Scientists from the United States, Canada, and France shared the physics prize on Tuesday. The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, honoring the man who endowed the five Nobel Prizes, will be revealed on Oct. 8. No literature prize will be awarded this year. The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is to be announced Friday.
The Nobel Prize in chemistry winners: Frances Arnold, George Smith, and Gregory Winter.
The committee chair Claes Gustafsson said "The power of evolution is revealed through the diversity of life, I think, Their work is an extension of selective breeding, which has been practiced by humans for millennia.
Nobel committee member Sara Snogerup Linse said while announcing the prize“This has formed the basis for a pharmaceutical revolution.”
The three winners all harnessed the principles that power evolution – genetic change and selection – to create new chemical processes that help cure disease, create new materials and save lives. All three have applied the principles of Darwin in test tubes. Enzymes are proteins made in cells which catalyze chemical reactions, making them work much faster. They have evolved over millions of years, but in 1993, Arnold worked out that you could direct their evolution and make the process happen much faster. She started by taking the gene that codes for an enzyme, then randomly introducing mutations, creating new variants of the enzyme. Then she screened the resulting variants and selected the ones that were most effective at catalyzing the reaction she wanted. The selected variants then went through another round of mutation and selection, and the process was repeated. After three generations, she had an enzyme that was 256 times more efficient than the starting enzyme.
Frances Arnold, based at the California Institute of Technology in the US, developed a way to direct the evolution of enzymes to make them much more effective at catalyzing chemical reactions. Enzymes produced through directed evolution are used to manufacture everything from biofuels to pharmaceuticals. Antibodies evolved using a method called phage display can combat autoimmune diseases and in some cases cure metastatic cancer. She has been awarded half of the prize money and is the fifth woman to win a chemistry Nobel.
The other half of the prize will be shared by George Smith of the University of Missouri and Gregory Winter of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, in Cambridge UK. They were honored for "phage display of peptides and antibodies.". This pair developed ways to develop therapeutic antibodies, which are now used to treat autoimmune diseases, anthrax, and cancer.
George Smith developed a way to use viruses that infect bacteria, called phages, to evolve new proteins. Winter used this technique to direct the evolution of antibodies – molecules produced by the immune system to recognize and attack pathogens. The first pharmaceutical based on Winter's work was approved for use in 2002 and is employed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
George Smith said in his statement, "Very few research breakthroughs are novel. Virtually all of them build on what went on before. It is happenstance. That was certainly the case with my work. Mine was an idea in a line of research that built very naturally on the lines of research that went before. It is a standard joke that someone with a Swedish accent calls and says you won! But there was so much static on the line, I knew it wasn't any of my friends”.