Two female Scientist awarded Nobel Prize for discovery of a method for genome editing
Stockholm: The two female scientists were awarded with the Nobel prize in the field of chemistry on Wednesday. The scientists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A Doudna were honored –“for the development of a method for genome editing. While Charpentier is from Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, Germany, Doudna is from the University of California, Berkeley, USA. .” An amount of 10 million Swedish kronor will be shared equally between the laureates.
Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna discovered one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. This researcher can use this tool to change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. This discovery is revolutionary in itself as it can impact on the life sciences. It is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true.
Earlier, researchers need to modify genes in cells if they are to find out about life’s inner workings, this would be time-consuming, difficult and sometimes impossible work. However, using the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors it is easier and less time consuming.
The Nobel Committee for Chemistry, chairman Claes Gustafsson said, “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”.
The discovery of these genetic scissors was unexpected. It was discovered by the Emmanuelle Charpentier during the study of Streptococcus pyogenes- one of the bacteria that cause the most harm to humanity. She found an unknown molecule, tracrRNA . The tracrRNA is part of bacteria’s ancient immune system, CRISPR/Cas, that disarms viruses by cleaving their DNA. Charpentier published her discovery in 2011. The same year, she initiated 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.
Emmanuelle Charpentier was born in 1968 at Juvisy-sur-Orge, France. She did her PhD in 1995 from Institut Pasteur, Paris, France. Currently, the director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, Germany.
Jennifer A. Doudna was born 1964 in Washington, D.C, USA. She completed her PhD in 1989 from Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA. Currently, Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, USA and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.