Chemistry Nobel Winners ‘Harnessed the Power of Evolution’

Two American scientists and a British scientist have won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their work in developing methods of genetic change and selection to produce new materials, pharmaceuticals and biofuels.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced its award Wednesday that comes with the $1 million prize.

American Frances Arnold was honored for the “directed evolution of enzymes,” using principles of natural selection to create new proteins that speed up chemical reactions.

The academy said Arnold’s work in the laboratory amounted to making evolution many times faster with the result of proteins that have new and useful properties.

American George Smith was honored for his development of what is known as a phage display, or a virus that infects bacteria in order to evolve new proteins.

British researcher Gregory Winter was the third prize winner for his work in using a phage display to evolve antibodies to create new pharmaceuticals. The academy said the method has been used to create drugs for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, autoimmune diseases and metastatic cancer.

Friday brings the announcement of this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and on Monday the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences will be awarded. There will be no Nobel Prize in Literature this year.

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