Published: Fri, October 05, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Enzyme research delivers Chemistry Nobel Prize to two Americans and a Brit

Enzyme research delivers Chemistry Nobel Prize to two Americans and a Brit

"My hat's off to Smith, Winter, and Arnold for their contributions to this multidisciplinary field that beautifully integrates chemistry, molecular biology, and protein science".

The Nobel Prize laureates for Medicine or Physiology 2018 are James P. Allison, U.S. and Tasuku Honjo, Japan presented at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 1, 2018. She created random mutations in a certain enzyme's genetic code, producing new variations of the enzyme, then selected the variations that produced the effects she most wanted - such as breaking down a milk protein.

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

With two Nobel prize winners in as many days, women scientists have welcomed the research community "waking up" to the feats of their female peers, but insist they remain underpaid and undervalued compared to men.

Frances Arnold of the California Institute of Technology was awarded half the prize for conducting the first directed evolution of enzymes, leading to more environmentally friendly manufacturing of chemicals, including drugs, and in the production of renewable fuels. "Enzymes are, by nature, they are environmental, because they are what all we organisms use to make our chemicals".

Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year. She graduated from Princeton University in 1979 with a mechanical and aerospace engineering. "There are also enzymes that can create new types of biofuels or that catalyze the formation of building blocks for new medicines", said chairman of the Nobel chemistry committee Claes Gustafsson. It uses a virus to infect bacteria and it can be used to evolve new proteins.

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.

"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. British biochemist Winter used phage display to produce new pharmaceuticals.

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The $1 million prize will be shared by James Allison, Ph.D., chair of Immunology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Tasuku Honjo, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at Kyoto University.

"Very few research breakthroughs are novel".

"Today's Nobel Prize in chemistry highlights the tremendous role of chemistry in contributing to many areas of our lives including pharmaceuticals, detergents, green catalysis and biofuels". "Obviously I'm thrilled to win it, but certainly it never entered my mind that it would", she said.

"Things are much better than they were decades ago, but we still have a long way to go", said Meg Urry, professor of physics at Yale University. "Mine was an idea in a line of research that built very naturally on the lines of research that went before".

He's expected to receive $250,000 in prize money.

On an even smaller scale, they can be used to study how proteins interact with other molecules in the body, to unfold individual proteins and to study traits like how much torque they exert while rotating.

- The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science will be announced Monday in Sweden. 8 October in Stockholm will name the victor of the prize for Economics in memory of Alfred Nobel.

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