Two women credited with creating revolutionary gene-editing technology have won this year’s Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research.
“Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna”: have developed a way to give scientists the power to remove or add genetic material at will.
Announcing the award, president of the jury, Pedro Miguel Echenique, praised their work as ground-breaking.
“Both researchers studied how bacteria defend against certain viruses that infect them, destroying their DNA by recognising some of its specific features,” he said. “This methodology allows them to remove, activate, inactivate, or even correct genes and could be used in various applications for basic research and as well in agriculture, livestock and biomedicine.”
Gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 is potentially worth billions of euros.
Since Doudna and Charpentier published a paper in the journal Science in 2012 describing the technique, scientists worldwide have used the method to experiment on plant, animal and human cells, and to test potential cures for sickle-cell anemia and cancer.