Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 for CRISPR-Cas9 Genetic Scissors

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On 7 October 2020, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for the development of a method for genome editing.  Currently Emmanuelle Charpentier works at the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens in Berlin, Germany, and Jennifer A. Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.
Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna; the Awardees for their development of CRISPR-Cas9
Emanuelle Charpentier [1] and Jennifer A. Doudna [2]

Charpentier and team published their initial discovery on bacterial genome editing in 2011[3]. In collaboration with Doudna, they were able to establish and simplify the method[4]. Their discovery and further developments of the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic scissors made one of most powerful technologies for genome editing widely accessible. In essence, Cas9-RNA mediates site-specific genome engineering in the genome of human cells, or other eukaryotes. One of the applications for in-vivo human gene therapy is that the Cas-9 enzyme can be used to reverse undesirable mutations[5], making it possible to treat a wide variety of diseases, including previously untreatable monogenic diseases. Overall, CRISPR-Cas9 technology has a highly transformative potential that is expected to have an impacts on various important megatrends in biotechnology and medicine bringing great benefits to mankind (figure 1).

Current and potential applications of CRISPR-Cas9
Figure 1: Current and potential applications  of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. Adapted from [6].

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[3] Deltcheva, E. et al. 2011. CRISPR RNA maturation by trans-encoded small RNA and host factor RNase III. Nature 471(7340):602-7.

[4] Jinek, M., J.A. Doudna, E. Charpentier et al. 2012. A programmable dual-RNA-guided DNA endonuclease in adaptive bacterial immunity. Science 337(6096):816-21.


[6] Doudna, J.A. and E. Charpentier 2014. Genome editing. The new frontier of genome engineering with CRISPR-Cas9. Science 346(6213):1258096.

CRISPR, CRISPR-Cas9, gene editing, Nobel Prize

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