French researcher Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer A. Doudna won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing a genome editing method: CRISPR/Cas9, a tool for rewriting the code of life that can make dreams become reality. disease.
The Swedish Academy of Sciences announced today that this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to female researchers Emmanuelle Charpentier Max Planck Institute for Etiology (Germany) and Jennifer A. Doudna From the University of California, Berkeley.
The secretary general of the college, Goran K. Hansson, emphasized: “The award is about rewriting the norms of life.”
Charpentier (Ovie-sur-Vue, France, 1968) and Doudna (Washington, USA, 1964) discovered one of the best tools of genetic technology: CRISPR / Cas9 gene scissors.
Using these scissors, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants, and microorganisms with very high precision. This technology has revolutionized life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies, and may make the dream of curing genetic diseases come true.
If scientists want to discover the internal mechanisms of life, they need to modify the genes in cells. This used to be slow, difficult, and sometimes impossible work. However, with CRISPR/Cas9 gene scissors, the rules of life can now be changed within a few weeks.
“This genetic tool has tremendous power, and it affects all of us.” Claas Gustafson, chairman of the Nobel Committee on Chemistry, said: “It not only revolutionized basic science, but also brought innovative crops, and Will bring new and innovative medical treatment methods. “
As often happens in science, the discovery of these genetic scissors was unexpected.In Charpentier’s research Streptococcus pyogenesIs one of the bacteria that cause the greatest damage to humans. It has discovered a previously unknown molecule, namely ARNtracr (Or trans-activated crRNA). Their research shows that this RNA is part of the ancient bacterial immune system CRISPR/Cas, which cuts DNA to disarm the virus.
Francis Mojica, the pioneer of CRISPR without the Nobel Prize
Spanish scientist Francis Mojica The University of Alicante introduced the term CRISPR (clustered, regularly spaced short palindrome repeats, grouped and regular short palindrome repeats) and described the Santa Pola salt flats in the 1990s A repetitive CRISPR sequence in archaea.
He later discovered that similar sequences are widely distributed in prokaryotes and matched the genetic material of bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria), indicating that these duplications are part of the microbial immune system.
“Without Francisco Mojica, there would be no CRISPR,” he emphasized in an article. article magazine natural, And rejected in 2003 Learn He introduced the Spanish microbiologist’s view of his discovery.
But Charpentier went further with the discovery of ARNtracr and published his findings in 2000. year 2011. In the same year, he began to collaborate with Jennifer Doudna, an experienced biochemist with extensive RNA knowledge. They worked together to reproduce the bacterial genetic scissors in a test tube and simplified their molecular composition to make it easier to use.
In the history-making experiment, they successfully reprogrammed the genetic scissors. They recognize virus DNA in its natural form, but Charpentier and Doudna have shown that they can be controlled to cut any DNA molecule at a predetermined site. Where DNA is cut, it is easy to rewrite the code of life.
Since Charpentier and Doudna 2012, Its usage has soared. This tool has contributed to many important discoveries in basic research, plant They have been able to develop Crops Can resist mold, pests and drought.
on drug, Clinical trials related to the following items Innovative cancer treatment,as well as Treat genetic diseases It is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. These genetic scissors have brought life sciences into a new era and have begun to bring huge benefits to mankind.
In the history of the Nobel Prize for more than a century, although Marie Curie had won the chemistry prize alone as early as 1911, this was the first time that two women won the chemistry prize. Later, her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie (1935), Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1964), Ada Yonath (2009) and Francis · Frances Arnold (2018).
Charpentier said: “My hope is that the award will bring a positive message to young women who want to take the path of science and show that women can also make an impact through their ongoing research.”
As far as she is concerned, Doudna was surprised in sleep by the announcement of the Nobel Prize. highlight The award “recognizes the history of CRISPR collaboration and its use in a powerful technology that brings new hope and possibilities to our society.”
He recalled: “The basic discovery project that was originally driven by curiosity has now evolved into an innovative strategy that has been adopted by countless researchers using research methods to improve the human condition. I encourage you to continue to support basic science and related CRISPR technology. Public discussion of the ethical use of and responsible regulations.”
This is how the revolutionary DNA editing tool CRISPR works. /José Antonio Peñas/SINC