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Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded to 'power of evolution'

03 October 2018

The 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to scientists Frances Arnold, George Smith and Gregory Winter for research using directed evolution to produce enzymes for new chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the award-giving body said on Wednesday.

USA 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 pharmaceuticals, the jury said.

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On Tuesday, the Royal Academy of Sciences awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics to Arthur Ashkin of United States and jointly to Gerard Mourou (US) and Donna Strickland (Canada) for their groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics. She is the Linus Pauling professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology.

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Sir Gregory Winter used phage display to produce new pharmaceuticals.

Arnold directed an enzyme's evolution by introducing genetic mutations to create multiple variants of a chosen enzyme.

The first pharmaceutical based on Winter's work was approved for use in 2002 and is employed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel diseases, the academy said. Genes code for proteins, and Smith got his phages to display those proteins on their outer coats.

Smith and Winter, of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, share the other half of the prize.

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The University of Missouri has its first ever Nobel Prize.

The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were created and funded in the will of Swedish dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901.

The 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to researchers Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for their work in cryo-electron microscopy, which the academy said "both simplifies and improves the imaging of biomolecules".

The Nobel Prize in chemistry, which honors researchers for advances in studying how molecules combine and interact, is being announced Wednesday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

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Arnold is only the fifth woman to win the prize in its 117-year history. The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, honouring the man who endowed the five Nobel Prizes, will be revealed on October 8. On Monday, James Allison, who spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at Scripps Research in La Jolla, won the Nobel in physiology or medicine for his work in fighting cancer.