One Briton and two Americans are the recipients of this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

One half of the prize is going to be split between George Smith from the University of Missouri and Gregory Winter from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular in United Kingdom who developed a technique called phage display. A phage is a virus which can infect bacteria and trick them into reproducing it. Phage display uses bacteria-infecting viruses to drive the evolution of new proteins and antibodies. This technique has been used in the development of new drugs that have transformed medicine, offering therapies for several diseases. One such example is Humira (adalimumab) which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and other auto-immune diseases, and is currently the world’s biggest selling drug with sales of $16 billion in 2016.

The other half of the Nobel Prize is going to Frances Arnold from the California Institute of Technology, who first demonstrated directed evolution of enzymes – that is proteins that speed up chemical reactions. This approach has been used to make biological catalysts for chemical reactions, cutting out the use of many toxic catalysts, and provides enzymes for developing new drugs and creating greener fuels. Arnold is only the fifth woman to be awarded the prize for chemistry. The winners will each receive a share of the 9 million Swedish Krona prize (£771,000).

Additionally, this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2018 was awarded jointly to James P. Allison and Tasuku Hnoka for their work on harnessing the immune system to combat cancer.


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