Published: Sun, October 07, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Trio wins chemistry Nobel prize for work on antibody drugs and detergents

Trio wins chemistry Nobel prize for work on antibody drugs and detergents

"Frances H. Arnold was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States in 1956 and she's now at the California Institute of Technology, Caltech, in Pasadena in the Los Angeles area".

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.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences acknowledged the role that evolution principles played in all this year's recipients' work.

Frances Arnold of the California Institute of Technology, George Smith from the University of Missouri and Gregory Winter of Britain's MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology were awarded the prize for pioneering science in enzymes and antibodies.

A Caltech scientist was awarded half of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry and is only the fifth woman to ever win the prize.

Smith genetically engineered the bacteriophage, inserting unknown genes to see what proteins would be made, as the proteins would end up displayed on the surface of the phage. They were honored for "phage display of peptides and antibodies". It is therefore fair to say that one of the great contributions of their research was to reduce the number of animals used in the lab. And including antibodies - that's what Gregory Winter did. Allison developed this idea into a new type of cancer treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first of these drugs in 2002.

Winter has used phage display to produce new pharmaceuticals.

Sold as Humira in the USA and under other brand names elsewhere, it brought AbbVie $18.4 billion in revenue previous year, in part because of its price: about $5,000 a month without insurance coverage in the U.S. Sir Gregory is a graduate of Trinity College and was a senior research fellow before becoming Master. The bacteria would produce a variety of new enzymes, which the researchers screened for the qualities they desired, such as the ability to work faster or under challenging conditions, such as high temperatures or the presence of chemicals.

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

"Nature is solving all sorts of problems that we throw at her such as how to degrade plastic bottles, how to degrade pesticides and herbicides and antibiotics. she creates new enzymes in response to that all the time, in real time". "In the end one has to have a certain amount of luck". You know, you can produce renewable fuels or better medicines.

"I'm ecstatic. That reflects on the whole [University of Missouri] system", said Tom George, chancellor and professor of chemistry and physics at the University of Missouri-St.

"We are in the early days of directed evolution's revolution which, in many different ways, is bringing and will bring the greatest benefit to humankind", according to the academy's statement. She received her graduate degree in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985.

Arnold, a breast cancer survivor, is the second woman to win a Nobel Prize this week.

She learned she had won when she was "unceremoniously woken up" at 4 a.m.in her hotel room in Dallas.

Proteins designed by Arnold "do these really off-the-wall things in record time", said Matt Hartings, an associate chemistry professor at American University.

Arnold's work has placed her at the forefront of enzyme research.

Just yesterday, another female laureate was awarded the Nobel in physics.

George P Smith photographed at his home in Columbia, after learning he had won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

He concludes, "Very few research breakthroughs are novel. Virtually all of them build on what went on before", he said.

Why is the work important?

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