The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Frances H. Arnold, and jointly to George P. Smith and Gregory P. Winter on Wednesday for their prowess in harnessing the power of evolution in order to develop proteins that focus on solving chemical problems.
While Arnold will share one half of the coveted award, the other half will be jointly shared by Smith and Winter.
According to an official release, Smith developed a method known as phage display, where a bacteriophage, a virus that infects bacteria, is used to evolve new proteins, while Winter, with the help of the new-found method, produced new pharmaceuticals and contributed to the development of antibodies that neutralise toxins, counteract autoimmune diseases and cure metastatic cancer.
Arnold, on the other hand, conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes as these are proteins which help catalyse chemical reactions.
The methods developed by the scientists are now being used internationally to promote a greener chemicals industry, produce new materials, manufacture sustainable biofuels and mitigate diseases.