Nobel Prize 2018 – an Award to Nature’s Design

This year’s Nobel Prize reminds us about the power of  nature’s own solutions. What took nature a billion years to achieve can serve as a model for the development of new sustainable solutions. Pure Effect’s garment care and cleaning are based on nature’s design and function, i.e nature’s own cleaners microorganisms. Here´s why we find this years Nobel Prize in Chemistry so exciting.

The Nobel Prize is an annually award to people who are considered to have “brought mankind the greatest benefit” within their area – medicine, physics, chemistry, economy and literature. In 2018, the award for chemistry is awarded to prominent biochemists, for their extraordinary contributions to humanity. Frances H. Arnold is awarded one-half of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for directed evolution of enzymes”, and George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P.Winter are awarded “for phage display of peptides and antibodies”.

”The power of evolution is revealed through the diversity of life. The 2018 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have taken control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind. 

 

Enzymes produced through directed evolution are used to manufacture everything from biofuels to pharmaceuticals. Antibodies evolved using a method called phage display can combat autoimmune diseases and in some cases cure metastatic cancer.”  (www.nobelprize.org)

So, what did Arnold come up with? Lots of research has been done to speed up and make enzymes more potent. An enzyme is a “catalyst” that can consist of several thousands of amino acids that are linked into long chains in a three-dimensional structure. Previously, scientists have tried to figure out how the complex architecture should be reconstructed for an enzyme to get new, better features. A lot of research has focused on structured tests and logical thinking, but didn’t succeed despite today’s knowledge and computer power.

In the beginning of the 1990s Arnold decided to abandon that method, and try a new way, inspired by nature’s own method of optimizing chemistry: evolution.

Arnolds method is based on selection and the principle “survival of the fittest” to find the best performing enzymes in a more chaos and random way. Just let things happen basically, and the fittest will survive and be selected. And that is also the principle of evolution in nature. Her progress is described as “directed evolution” and the method to find better enzymes helps us today to produce more environmentally friendly fuels and detergents than before.

Only four women have previously received Nobel’s award in chemistry. Arnold is now the fifth woman ever and we look forward to many, many more.

Note to self: by doing what nature does, you can get the job done much more quickly. Let go of some structure and let chaos show you the way.

/by Linda Rosendahl Nordin

 

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