In DepthNOBEL PRIZE

Protein evolution earns chemistry Nobel

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Science  12 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6411, pp. 142
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6411.142

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Summary

This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to three scientists who harnessed evolution in the lab. Frances Arnold, a chemical engineer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, was awarded half of the prize for her work on the "directed evolution" of enzymes, proteins that catalyze specific chemical reactions inside cells. George Smith of the University of Missouri in Columbia and Gregory Winter of the Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, U.K., shared the other half of the award for using viruses that infect bacteria to direct the selection and evolution of new proteins, including antibodies. Together, the work of the new laureates has led to improved enzymes for industrial uses, such as synthesizing fuel from plant materials, as well as a bevy of new drugs to combat cancer and other diseases.

  • * With reporting by Lila Guterman and Daniel Clery.