Thursday, 21 February, 2019

Trio awarded Nobel Prize for Chemistry

George P. Smith of the U.S. Frances H. Arnold of the U.S. and Gregory P. Winter of Britain the 2018 Nobel Prize laureates for Chemistry Trio awarded Nobel Prize for Chemistry
Theresa Hayes | 05 October, 2018, 19:16

In its citation, the Nobel committee said: "The 2018 Nobel Laureates in chemistry have taken control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind".

Life on Earth exists because over the past 3.7 billion years organisms have adapted to their environment, with evolution solving complex chemical problems: fish can for example swim in polar oceans because they have antifreeze proteins in their blood. He won the Nobel for his development of a method called phage display, in which a virus that infects bacteria can be used to evolve new proteins. They can examine and manipulate viruses, bacteria and other living cells without damaging them.

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.

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

Dr Wayne Marasco of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston said the lab technique developed by Smith and Winter was "revolutionary. and it's used today, every day". I smile recalling that, but up to that point she had been trying to modify enzymes (proteins that do chemistry) by thinking carefully about the effects certain changes to their amino-acid sequences ought to have.

With this directed evolution, she could show the power behind allowing chance and directed selection instead of depending on human logic and understanding of how genes and enzymes are supposed to work.

"She has truly made a big difference by finding out how to apply directed evolution to microorganisms", said Athanassios Panagiotopoulos, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton and chair of the department.

"I am thrilled that she has won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry", said Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber.

She was asleep in a hotel room in Texas when the phone rang.

Arnold told the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 2014 that her methodology had initially been viewed skeptically by "gentleman scientists", but she told herself, "I'm not a gentleman and I'm not a scientist" - she still identifies as an engineer - "so I didn't mind".

In a short speech, she gave credit to her "inspiring" research team. The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, honouring Alfred Nobel, the man who endowed the five Nobel Prizes, will be revealed on Monday.

"Things are much better than they were decades ago, but we still have a long way to go", said Meg Urry, professor of physics at Yale University.

He was "a bit rocky" early Wednesday after a feast the night before at Trinity College and was having coffee and aspirin when a caller from Sweden told him to expect a "very important announcement".

The woman was receiving his then-experimental antibody treatment. Morrison, who is the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emerita, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993 and is the only other female associated with the University to win the award.

Meanwhile, scientists from the United States, Canada and France shared the physics prize on Tuesday.

The breakthrough came with the work of prizewinners Mr Mourou and Ms Strickland, he said.

Despite the relatively strong showing at the Nobels this year - historically, just 19 of more than 600 science laureates have been female - others pointed out several persistent barriers for women in the world of science.

The Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded since 1901 and can include up to three different laureates.

The 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to three scientists who have used evolution to incite a chemical revolution, with the hopes of improving drug discovery and reducing the use of harsh chemicals in industrial processes.