DNA breakthrough Nobel prize could top $500,000 at Bonhams

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2016-01-25 11:28:00

A Nobel Prize awarded for innovation in the study of DNA will lead a Bonhams sale in California next month.

The company's Fine Books and Manuscripts auction will offer the 1993 Nobel Prize medal awarded to biochemist Dr. Kary B. Mullis, which experts believe could sell for more than half a million dollars.

Mullis' breakthrough came in 1983, when he invented a new process which greatly improved the way in which scientists studied DNA sequences.
The three-dimensional double helix structure of DNA was originally described in 1953 by Nobel Prize winners James Watson and Francis Crick. However, with samples suitable to use in a laboratory taking up to six months to create, progress in the field had remained slow ever since.

Then in 1983, Mullis had his "Eureka!" moment whilst driving in the country – devising a process in which the size of DNA samples could be greatly increased through repeated heating and cooling.

His new technique, a development of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, meant usable DNA samples could be created far faster, which according to the Swedish Academy of Sciences "hastened the rapid development of genetic engineering" and "greatly stimulated biochemical research ... [opening] the way for new applications in medicine and biology."

Mullis' work revolutionised genetic research, paving the way for major breakthrough in the diagnosis of genetic defects, detection of the AIDS virus , cloning, evolutionary studies and forensic science.

In 1993 he was awarded for his efforts with the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he shared with Michael Smith, along with the Japan Prize in the same year.  
 Mullis' 18 carat gold Nobel medal is one of the few ever offered at auction by a living recipient, and will cross the block at Bonhams with an estimate of $450,000-$550,000.

The Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts sale takes place on February 14 at the Sheraton Pasadena Hotel, and coincides with the 49th California International Antiquarian Book Fair.

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