The Nobel Prize in chemistry for year 2020 was awarded to Frenchwoman Emmanuelle Charpentier and an American, Jennifer Doudna for their research on genetic scissors that cuts DNA at precise location, enabling scientists make changes to specific genes.
The Nobel Committee during announcement of the award explained that their discovery is contributing to new cancer therapies and has no doubt had an immense impact on life sciences.
According to the committee, doctors are already using the technology to treat diseases related to sickle cell and are experiencing positive results.
“The editing tool known as CRISPR-Cas9 didn’t at all take time in letting people know of significance it has to the human health.
Relatedly, the Director of National Institutes of Health which for some time have backed Doudna’s research, Francis Collins said it is impossible to walk into a molecular biology lab today without seeing CRISPR-Cas9 playing an instrumental role in determining how disease happens.
Similarly, the Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, Claes Gustafsson said there have been continuous fights over who deserves most credit for CRISPR-Cas9 discovery, adding that the committee decided to award this year’s prize to Charpentier and Doudna.
“As powerful as this tool is, it poses questions on how to ethically use it, citing example of a researcher in China who used the technique to genetically alter babies.
He added that two women sharing the Nobel Prize was quite unusual, as it has been so far awarded to 185 individuals between year 1901 and 2020.
One of the awardees, Charpentier during a press briefing revealed that before now, that people have always been suggesting that her work is worthy of a Nobel Prize.
“I was told on numerous occasions that my discovery will one day win me a Nobel Prize award.
“It was quite emotional as I was told that winning this kind of Prize is always something one should be immensely proud of, I have to get used to it now”, Charpentier added.