Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded for using evolution to develop new chemicals

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Arnold, only the fifth woman to win a chemistry Nobel, was awarded half of the 9 million Swedish krona (US$1 million) prize while fellow American Smith and Winter of Britain shared the other half.

Enzymes "are what all we organisms use to make our chemicals".

She was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry on October 3.

"Our laureates have applied the principles of Darwin in test tubes and used this approach to develop new types of chemicals for the greatest benefit of humankind", said Claes Gustafsson, chairman of the Nobel committee for chemistry 2018 and a professor at the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden.

"I realized that the way most people were going about protein engineering was doomed failure", Arnold said. There is no Nobel Prize for Biology. It's used to treat immune-system disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel diseases, the academy said.

According to a Royal Swedish Academy statement, Smith knew it was possible to manipulate a phage's (virus that infects bacteria) genetic material and change the molecules coating its surface, so he made a decision to use the virus as a means of identifying an unknown gene for a known protein, and vice versa.

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.

Techniques for directed evolution have improved since then and Arnold has been at the leading edge, the academy said. The Royal Swedish Academy notes that the catalysts produced in her lab can produce materials that don't yet exist in nature, speed up chemical reactions, produce fewer by-products and, in certain cases, replace the heavy metals typically used in traditional chemistry.

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In 1993, she became the first scientist to prove that you could directly guide the evolution of enzymes.

The head of the American Institute of Physics said the work of Mr Mourou and Ms Strickland enabled new studies of matter by allowing scientists to produce more powerful bursts of laser light.

NPR detailed Arnold's work in 2012 after she spoke at a TEDMED conference.

Earlier this week, two immunologists, James Allison of the USA and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won the Nobel Medicine Prize for research into how the body's natural defences can fight cancer.

Smith developed a method using a virus that infects bacteria to produce new proteins while Winter used the same phage display technique to engineer the evolution of antibodies, with the aim of producing more effective medicines.

"I hope that my getting this prize will highlight the fact that, yes, women can do this, they can do it well and that they can make a contribution to the world and be recognized for it", Arnold said in an email. She earned her PhD in 1985 from the University of California, Berkeley. "I thought maybe it was a joke but the line was so scratchy and there was so much interference, I thought nah, it wasn't one of my friends.

And hopefully in time it'll start to move forward at a faster rate, maybe", Ms Strickland said in a phone call with the academy after the prize announcement. They were the wish of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who established the organization that provides money for the prizes.

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, honouring the man who endowed the five Nobel Prizes, will be revealed on Monday.