BEIJING, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, two scientists who have developed one of the sharpest tools in gene technology: CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing. The technique is also known as “gene scissors”.
Using this technique, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with great precision. The technology has revolutionized life sciences, helping researchers develop new cancer treatments and making dreams of curing genetic diseases a reality.
One of the attractions of science is its uncontestedness – you never know in advance where an idea or problem will lead you. For a curious person, there are times when there are dead ends, and sometimes there is a maze full of obstacles that take years to complete. But it is through time and time again that we can see the infinite possibilities.
CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing is such an unexpected discovery with amazing potential. When Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna began studying the immune system of Streptococcus, one of their ideas was that they might be able to develop a new antibiotic. Eventually, however, they discovered a molecular tool that could precisely cut genetic material, making it possible to change the code of life.
Significant molecular tools.
Just eight years after their discovery, these “gene scissors” have reshaped the life sciences. With this technology, biochemists and cell biologists can now easily study the function of different genes and their possible role in disease progress.
In plant breeding, researchers can give plants special features, such as the ability to withstand drought in warmer climates. On the medical front, the gene editor is contributing to new cancer treatments and the first research to try to cure genetic diseases. The potential of CRISPR-Cas9 is almost endless, but it also includes some unethical applications. As with all powerful technologies, these “gene scissors” need to be managed, which will be detailed later.
In 2011, neither Emmanuelle Charpentier nor Jennifer Doudna knew how their first meeting at a Puerto Rican cafe would change their lives. Our presentation will begin with Charpentier, who initially suggested collaboration.