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Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Frances H. Arnold “for the directed evolution of enzymes” and the other half jointly to George P. Smith and Gregory P. Winter “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies”. Together their pioneering work harnesses the processes of evolution for the generation of novel biological compounds. These tools have transformed the production of pharmaceuticals such as monoclonal antibodies and renewable fuels.

This Collection presents research, review, news and comment articles from Nature Research to celebrate the award. The collection content is editorially independent and the sole responsibility of Springer Nature.

Directed evolution uses laboratory-based evolution to enhance the properties of biomolecules, primarily to generate proteins with optimized or novel activities. This Review discusses the diverse range of technologies for the directed evolution of proteins, particularly methods for generating diversity in the gene library and approaches for screening and selecting for variants with desired properties. The relative strengths and limitations of these approaches are highlighted to guide readers to appropriate strategies.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Genetics

How can we improve the design of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to treat cancer? In this Review, George J. Weiner discusses the characteristics of mAbs that can affect their efficacy, the current approaches that use mAbs in cancer treatment and the numerous ways to enhance the potential of these mAb-based techniques.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Cancer

Therapeutic antibodies have already improved the lives of many people living with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. But there is still room for improvement. Here, the authors review how the current therapeutic antibodies work and how they might be enhanced to increase efficacy and extend their use.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Immunology

More than 30 monoclonal antibody-based therapies have been approved for clinical use in the past 25 years. By looking at the strategies that have been used by pharmaceutical companies to develop these products, this Timeline article provides insight into the challenges that will be faced in developing the next generation of therapeutic antibodies.

Timeline | | Nature Reviews Immunology

Over the past ten years, protein engineering has established biocatalysis as a practical and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional forms of catalysis both in the laboratory and in industry.

Review Article | | Nature

Synthetic biology involves the creation of biological systems for new applications by modifying and reassembling biological components. Two views are presented here on the best way to engineer these components so that they reliably generate organisms with desired traits.

News & Views | | Nature