Two scientists have been awarded the 2020 Nobel prize in chemistry on the development of Crispr-Cas9, a method for genome editing. The announcement marks the first time a science Nobel has been awarded to two women.
Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A Doudna—the sixth and seventh women to receive the chemistry prize, will share the 10m Swedish kronor (£870,000) prize announced on Wednesday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.
The scientists have developed a kind of genetic scissors that allows researchers to alter the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high accuracy.
The genome editing, CRISPR-Cas9 system, has been used in various scientific applications, from genetically modifying crops to developing cures-in-progress for conditions like sickle cell disease and hereditary blindness.
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 7, 2020
The system has revolutionised the field of genetic engineering, with its impact felt across biomedical research, clinical medicine, agriculture and wider society. However, it is the technology’s potential to treat or prevent human diseases that have generated the most excitement, as well as controversy over attempts to use it to create gene-edited babies.
“This latest 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 prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were created and funded in the will of Swedish dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901, with the economics award a later addition.