Trio wins Chemistry Nobel for works on proteins

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Oct 2018 08:54:32


 

STOCKHOLM,


US SCIENTISTS Frances Arnold and George Smith and British researcher Gregory Winter won the Nobel Chemistry Prize on Wednesday for applying the principles of evolution to develop enzymes used to make everything from biofuels to medicine.


Arnold, just the fifth woman to clinch chemistry’s most prestigious honour, won one half of the nine million Swedish kronor (about $1.01 million or 870,000 euros) award, while Smith and Winter shared the other half. “The 2018 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have taken control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind,” the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences said. The trio used the same principles of evolution -- genetic change and selection -- to develop proteins used in a range of fields.

“They have applied the principles of Darwin in test tubes. They have used the molecular understanding we have of the evolutionary process and recreated the process in their labs,” the head of the Academy’s Nobel Chemistry committee, Claes Gustafsson, told reporters.


“They have been able to make evolution many 1000s of times faster and redirect it to create new proteins.” Arnold, 62, who has survived breast cancer and is a single mother to three sons, is a professor of chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology.


Her method of rewriting DNA to mimic evolution has helped solve problems such as replacing toxic chemicals like fossil fuels. As a result, renewable resources like sugar cane are being converted into biofuels. More environmentally-friendly chemical substances are being developed, improving everyday products such as laundry and dishwashing detergents to enhance their performance in cold temperatures.


“The most beautiful, complex, and functional objects on the planet have been made by evolution. We can now use evolution to make things that no human knows how to design,” Arnold said in 2016.