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Daily News Analysis

Explained: 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

8th October, 2020 Science and Technology

Context: CRISPR/Cas9 technology has introduced new opportunities in cancer therapies, curing inherited diseases and also in plant inbreeding.

  • Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 for discovering one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.
  • Using components of the CRISPR system, researchers can add, remove, or even alter specific DNA sequences.

 Why the name CRISPR/Cas?

  • CRISPR is an abbreviation for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.
  • These sequences are a part of the bacteria’s immune system.
  • Bacteria that have survived a virus infection add a piece of the genetic code of the virus into its genome as a memory of the infection.
  • In addition to these CRISPR sequences, researchers discovered special genes called CRISPR-associated, abbreviated as Cas.

What was the controversy on CRISPR-Cas9 technology?

  • In 2018, a geneticist from China, claimed that he altered the genes of twin girls born this month to create the first gene-edited babies.
  • He used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to edit the genes of twin girls.