A Nobel and Prize-worthy PepTalk
Two weeks ago was 2018 Nobel Week and it was an exciting time for the field of peptide chemistry, with peptides making an appearance in both the Physiology and Chemistry prizes.
First up, on October 1, Physiology or Medicine was announced. The 2018 prize was jointly awarded to James P. Allison, of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and a founder of Neon Therapeutics, and Tasuku Honjo, of the Kyoto University, for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation. Read more about that prize here.2
On the following day the award was for Physics. The prize went to Arthur Ashkin of Bell Laboratories “for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems” and the other half jointly to Gérard Mourou of École Polytechnique and University of Michigan and also to Donna Strickland of the University of Waterloo “for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses”. Ashkin’s optical tweezers allow scientists to grab particles as tiny as atoms with light, and move them using radiation pressure of light. His discovery paved the way for using light to investigate the “machinery of life”.3 Dr. Strickland is only the third woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in this field, and the first in fifty-five years. 4
Then, on October 3, peptides returned for another showing with the award for Chemistry. The recipients were Frances H. Arnold, of the California Institute of Technology, “for the directed evolution of enzymes” and jointly to George P. Smith, of the University of Missouri, and Sir Gregory P. Winter, of MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and founder of Bicycle Therapeutics, “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies”. This work has paved the way for therapeutic antibodies derived from phage display. Their work has paved the way for antibodies for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and cancer.5
Peptides International offers congratulations to these and all of this year’s Nobel Prize recipients.