Trio win Nobel chemistry prize for research harnessing evolution

As a result, renewable resources like sugar cane are being converted into biofuels. More environmentally friendly chemical substances are being developed, improving everyday products such as laundry and dishwashing detergents to enhance their performance in cold temperatures.

“The most beautiful, complex, and functional objects on the planet have been made by evolution. We can now use evolution to make things that no human knows how to design,” Arnold said in 2016.

“Evolution is the most powerful engineering method in the world, and we should make use of it to find new biological solutions to problems,” she said.

“Instead of pumping oil out of the ground for making gasoline, now we can use sunlight stored in plants.”

Curing cancer 

Meanwhile, Smith, of the University of Missouri, and Winter, a 67-year-old genetic engineer at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge, developed an “elegant method” known as phage display, where a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria – can be used to evolve new proteins, the jury said.

Pharmaceuticals for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel diseases have resulted from their research, as well as anti-bodies that can neutralise toxins, counteract autoimmune diseases and cure metastatic cancer.

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