Nobel Prize for chemistry awarded to American, British researchers

Female Nobel winner a long time coming, and a drop in the ocean

2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry goes to Americans Frances Arnold and George Smith and Britain's Gregory Winter

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to three scientists for their discoveries in enzyme research.

Frances Arnold, who won half the Nobel in chemistry this year, is known for her work on directed evolution of enzymes.

According to a statement released by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which is responsible for nominating and selecting the Nobel Laureates in Physics and Chemistry, the three honorees "have been inspired by the power of evolution and used the same principles-genetic change and selection-to develop proteins that solve mankind's chemical problems".

One half of the prize will go to Frances Arnold from the California Institute of Technology, US who first demonstrated directed evolution of enzymes, an approach that has since been used to make new biological catalysts for useful chemical reactions, including those used to synthesise new drugs and greener fuels. Phage display has been used in the development of new drugs such as adalimumab, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune diseases. This year's laureates have "recreated the process in their test tubes. and make evolution many times faster".

The Swedish academy said the winners "harnessed the power of evolution", meaning they made evolution of proteins happen in their labs.

Other antibody drugs at the cutting edge of medicine use the same technology, including a number of treatments that have proved highly effective against cancer. "It is a thoroughly worthy Nobel Prize".

Smith, reached at his home in Columbia, Missouri, was quick to credit the work of others for his prize.

He built up a collection of phages, with billions of antibody varieties on their surface, and engineered them make them more effective. "It's happenstance. That was certainly the case with my work", he said.

"Being a scientist and being awarded the Nobel Prize is the highest accolade you can have".

Six months after being honoured by Business Weekly and Cambridge Enterprise with our inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award, Sir Greg has become the 107th affiliate of Cambridge to be awarded a Nobel Prize.

Meanwhile, Smith's major contribution to the field of chemistry began in 1985 when he developed phage display, an elegant method where bacteriophage - a virus that infects bacteria - could be used to evolve new proteins. Trinity College has 33 Nobel Laureates, the most of any Cambridge college.

He insisted: "I had absolutely no inkling that this was going to happen".

"And at first, of course, I thought it was one of my sons, with a problem", says Arnold.

Smith said he learned of the prize in a pre-dawn phone call from Stockholm.

A British pioneer of laboratory-produced "monoclonal" antibodies used in some of the most advanced medicines today has won a share of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Donna Strickland shared the prize with two other physicists and the event marked the third time in history that a woman was the recipient of the physics Nobel.

Research that engendered new therapies was also recognized with the Nobel for medicine earlier this week when two scientists, James Allison of the us and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won the award for work in immune oncology.

Arnold, Smith and Winter will receive their prize from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's 1896 death.

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