The Nobel Prize 2020 in chemistry has been awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna "for development of method for genome editing". The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in a statement, said Charpentier and Doudna have discovered one of gene technology's sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. Emmanuelle Charpentier works at Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, Germany, and Jennifer A Doudna at University of California, Berkeley, USA.
"Using these, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true," the academy statement said.
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said researchers need to modify genes in cells if they are to find out about life's inner workings. This used to be time-consuming, difficult and sometimes impossible work. "Using the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, it is now possible to change the code of life over the course of a few weeks," it added.
Charpentier published her discovery in 2011. The same year, she initiated a collaboration with Jennifer Doudna, an experienced biochemist with vast knowledge of RNA. Together, they succeeded in recreating the bacteria's genetic scissors in a test tube and simplifying the scissors' molecular components so they were easier to use, the statement added.
Since Charpentier and Doudna discovered the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors in 2012, their use has exploded. This tool has contributed to many important discoveries in basic research, and plant researchers have been able to develop crops that withstand mold, pests and drought.
In medicine, clinical trials of new cancer therapies are underway, and the dream of being able to cure inherited diseases is about to come true. These genetic scissors have taken the life sciences into a new epoch and, in many ways, are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind. Yesterday, the academy had announced the Nobel Prize in physics to Briton Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for black hole-related discoveries.