For the first time in history, two women have jointly won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier and Professor Jennifer Doudna won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work developing a method for genome editing.
The award takes the number of women who have ever won the Nobel Prize in chemistry from five to seven.
Both scientists will equally share 10 million Swedish kronor (£866,000) for their discovery of “one of gene technology’s sharpest tools” – the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technique, or “genetic scissors” as the committee described it.
“Using these [scissors], researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision,” said the Nobel committee.
“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.”
It is the first time the Nobel Prize for chemistry has been awarded to two women in the same year in its 119-year history.
The genome editing technique they developed is based on creating proteins which match the DNA code where a “cut” is going to be made.
This effectively allows researchers to insert, repair or edit a gene in such a way that the DNA doesn’t see the change as damage, but as a legitimate edit to be replicated by the cell.
“There is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all,” said Claes Gustafsson, chairman of the Nobel Committee for chemistry.