CRISPR -era and the Nobel prize
Like many science enthusiasts the world over, we at HVA are keenly anticipating this coming week’s announcements of the 2019 Nobel Prizes. We are especially curious to see who will be awarded the Prizes for Chemistry and Medicine seeing as two of the strongest candidates are the pioneers of the CRISPR technology.
CRISPR is likely the most important invention of this decade, and not just in biochemistry. Gene-editing has now become no more complicated than using a word processor, enabling plant scientists to cut, switch out or shut off bits of genes, thereby revolutionizing both agriculture and medical research.
CRISPR’s pioneers, the French and American biochemists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, are well worth the Nobel Prize for their breakthrough work in deciphering the molecular mechanisms of the bacterial CRISPR/Cas9 immune system and repurposing it into a tool for genome editing.
The tools created by this duo and others have immensely facilitated genome modification by “cutting and pasting” DNA sequences. This technology is so efficient and powerful that it has spread like wildfire and scientists can now tailor resistant crops and piece together cures for debilitating diseases.
If Charpentier and Doudna do receive a Nobel Prize this week, it will be interesting to note if it is awarded in Chemistry or Medicine. While CRISPR is widely employed in the medical research and innovation, the Nobel Prize is heavily associated with world peace, and the future of agriculture and mankind’s peaceful co-existence is likely to be very strongly influenced in the years to come by CRISPR-mediated genome editing of plants.