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Scientists win Nobel chemistry for 'genetic scissors'

Source: ANI  -  Edited By: Roshneesh Kmaneck
October 07, 2020 18:15 IST
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The Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2020 was jointly awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A Doudna "for the development of a method for genome editing."

IMAGE: Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A Doudna, winners of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, are displayed on a screen during the news conference announcing the laureates, at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in Stockholm, Sweden. Photograph: TT News Agency/Henrik Montgomery/Pool/Reuters

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A Doudna have discovered one of gene technology's sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.

 

"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 Nobel Assembly said in a statement.

Charpentier, 51, and Doudna, 56, are just the sixth and seventh women to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry, according to France 24.

"There is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all. It has not only revolutionised basic science but also resulted in innovative crops and will lead to ground-breaking new medical treatments," said Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

The assembly further called the discovery of these genetic scissors as "unexpected" adding that during Emmanuelle Charpentier's studies of Streptococcus pyogenes, one of the bacteria that cause "the most harm to humanity", she discovered a previously unknown molecule, tracrRNA.

"Her work showed that tracrRNA is part of bacteria's ancient immune system, CRISPR/Cas, that disarms viruses by cleaving their DNA," the Assembly added.

Charpentier published her discovery in 2011. The same year, she initiated a collaboration with Jennifer Doudna, an experienced biochemist with a 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 assembly said further that 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 mould, 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," the Assembly noted adding that these genetic scissors "have taken the life sciences into a new epoch and, in many ways, are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind."

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Source: ANI  -  Edited By: Roshneesh Kmaneck
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