Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to 3 scientists for work on proteins

Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to 3 scientists for work on proteins

Stockholm, Oct 3: The 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to scientists Frances Arnold, George Smith and Gregory Winter for research on enzymes, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said on Wednesday.

The first half of the prize was given to Ms Arnold for 'directed evolution of enzymes,' while other half jointly to Messrs Smith and Winter for 'phage display of peptides and antibodies,' the Academy said.

Ms Arnold, who works at California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, US, performed the first 'directed evolution' of enzymes, which are proteins that catalyse chemical reactions. Enzymes produced through directed evolution are used to manufacture everything from biofuels to pharmaceuticals.

Mr Smith of University of Missouri, Columbia, US, developed a method called phage display, where a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria – can be used to evolve new proteins.

Sir Winter used phage display to produce new pharmaceuticals. Today phage display has produced antibodies that can neutralise toxins, counteract autoimmune diseases and cure metastatic cancer.

Sir Winter, is at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. This is now its 12th Nobel prize. Ms Arnold become the fifth woman to win the Nobel prize in chemistry. The prize money is one million dollars.

Last year, the chemistry honours went to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson, who found a way to produce images of the molecules of life frozen in time. Chemistry was the most important science for Alfred Nobel’s own work. The development of his inventions as well as the industrial processes he employed were based upon chemical knowledge. Chemistry was the second prize area that Nobel mentioned in his will.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden. (UNI)