The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry- for Genome Editing method

Two women named Emmanuelle Charpentier of France, and American Jennifer Doudna have been award with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Charpentier and Doudna were working to develop the technology of genome editing.

Key Facts

  • Their genome editing technique has also been awarded with “Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in 2015” and the “Wolf Prize in Medicine, 2020”.
  • Apart from them, another person named Virginijus Siksnys has also been recognised as a co-inventor in the genome editing technology.
  • The trio also got the 2018 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience.

Genome Editing Technology

The Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a technology for genome editing. It makes a natural defence mechanism in bacteria in order to get protection from virus attacks. Cas9 or the ‘genetic scissor’ protein is used to remove the problematic sequence in the DNA strand that is identified through programmed RNA.  But, with this method, problematic sequence might regrow because of auto-repair properties of DNA strand. So, under the CRISPR technology, genetic codes are supplied while the DNA Strand is repairing itself.

Application

  1. The method can be used to Eliminate genetic and other diseases caused by  undesired genetic mutation
  2. The genome editing can allow the genes of plants to make them fight with pests and improve immunity against drought or temperature
  3. The method is also being used to correct the deformities, brining cosmetic perfection and producing  ‘designer babies’.

Concerns

The CRISPR technology is not 100 percent accurate so it can alter the genome. Further, there is no any regulatory permission or oversight to regulate the technology. Thus, the technology can be misused.  In that regard, Jennifer Doudna has been campaigning for the development of internationally rules and guidelines for the use of CRISPR technology.