The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences  has awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 to Emmanuelle Charpentier Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin (Germany) and Jennifer A. Doudna University of California, Berkeley (USA), “ for the development of a method for genome editing”. 

Known as “genetic scissors” or as a tool for rewriting the code of life, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna have discovered one of gene technology’s sharpest tools, the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, a note on this year’s winners said. 

Using these, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true. 

Researchers need to modify genes in cells if they are to find out about life’s inner workings. This used to be time-consuming, challenging and sometimes impossible work. Using the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, it is now possible to change the code of life over a few weeks. 

“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,” said Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.