Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020: Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A Doudna has been announced as Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry this year for their work in developing “genetic scissors” that can change DNA or what can be understood as “a tool for rewriting the code of life”.
After Andrea Ghez who became the 4th women to win Nobel Prize in Physics this year, these two women scientists will be sharing Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2020 which has been announced today taking the number of total women scientists to have won Nobel Prize in Chemistry to 7.
They are credited for discovering a tool for genome editing called as CRISPR/Cas9. After the discovery of CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors in 2012, it’s potential to bring the greatest benefit to the mankind has been realized on a much larger scale.
CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors are being used extensively to change the DNA makeup of animals, plants and microorganisms with an extreme accuracy and precision.
It has the promise of making the dream of curing inherited disease by rewriting the genetic code that causes a genetic disorder.
It’s contribution to the development of new cancer therapies is another cap in its feather.
Since it’s discovery, besides its immense contribution to various disciplines in basic sciences, plants researchers have been able to develop genetically modified plants by genetic manipulation which can withstand molds, pests or droughts etc.
We can’t however rule out its potential to be misused so the ethical and moral debate around it will only grow stronger and there will be a need of certain regulation in place to check upon its misuse/misadventure to manipulate genetic code which can end up harming the cause of the humanity.
In what can be termed as rather surprising or serendipitous, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editor is an unexpected discovery.
These scientists were basically working on Streptococcus bacterium with a hope that they might be able to make a new form of antibiotic but they ended discovering such a marvelous genetic tool which have brought revolution in life sciences and have transformed our approach and thought processes.
There is no doubt about the fact that it’s being termed as a discovery which has helped life sciences to usher in a new epoch with unimaginable possibilities.