Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith, Sir Gregory P. Winter win 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Oct 4, 2018 14:42 IST
Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith, Sir Gregory P. Winter win 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on October 3, 2018 awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with one half to Frances H. Arnold “for the directed evolution of enzymes” and the other half jointly to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies”.

The all three of them harnessed the power of evolution which is revealed through the diversity of life. They took control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind.


Enzymes produced through directed evolution are used to manufacture everything from biofuels to pharmaceuticals.
Antibodies, evolved using a method called phage display, are able to combat autoimmune diseases and in some cases cure metastatic cancer.

The laureates used the same principles of genetic change and selection to develop proteins that solve mankind’s chemical problems.

Frances H. Arnold 

Frances H. Arnold of California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes in 1993, which are proteins that catalyse chemical reactions. Since then, she has refined the methods that are now routinely used to develop new catalysts.

The uses of Frances Arnold’s enzymes include more environmentally friendly manufacturing of chemical substances, such as pharmaceuticals, and the production of renewable fuels for a greener transport sector.

George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter

In 1985, George Smith of the University of Missouri, Columbia, USA developed an elegant method known as phage display, where a bacteriophage, a virus that infects bacteria, can be used to evolve new proteins.

On the other hand, Gregory Winter of MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK used phage display for the directed evolution of antibodies with the aim of producing new pharmaceuticals.

The phage display has produced anti-bodies that can neutralise toxins, counteract autoimmune diseases and cure metastatic cancer.


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