American biochemist Jennifer A. Doudna and French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier are the first women to receive a joint Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and the sixth and seventh to receive the Chemistry price in general.
Their years of research and experimentation has brought forth the discovery of a ‘genetic scissor’, as scientists call it, named the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool. This tool allows scientists to edit the genetic material of an organism, allowing humans to dive deeper into DNA modification and manipulation.
Although there have been ethical concerns in the past with some concerns about the method being ‘unethical’ in the past, such as He Jiankui’s successful attempt to create genetically edited twins whose embryos were modified to be resistant to HIV, this discovery will pave the way to a positive change in the future.
Some useful results of this gene-editing tool would be applicable to plants, making them resistant to drought, pests and mold. In humans, this method can help prevent inherited diseases and accelerate cancer therapies
Chemists and Biologists around the world applauded Doudna’s and Charpenier’s brealthrough:
“The ability to edit genes provides an incredible toolkit for scientific research that will benefit humankind for generations to come, from fighting and preventing diseases to feeding our growing global population,”Tom Welton, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
“I am also hugely pleased to see that the Nobel committee has chosen to honor two leading women in active research — their teamwork is an example of how scientific breakthroughs are based on a truly global community of researchers and they can become role models for aspiring scientists of all genders.”
A Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Doudna was born in Washington, DC. Charpentier, director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens in Berlin, Germany was born in Juvisy-sur-Orge, France.