The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for developing a way of editing DNA with biological “genetic scissors”.
Charpentier, a French microbiologist, and Doudna, an American biochemist, are the first women to jointly win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Secretary-general for the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Goran K Hansson, said that this year’s prize was about “rewriting the code of life”.
The pair discovered the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors with which scientists can change the DNA of animals, plants and micro-organisms with extremely high precision.
There are hopes it will transform the treatment of inherited illnesses.
Since the two scientists discovered the genetic scissors, the bio-tool has contributed to many other important discoveries, and clinical trials of new cancer therapies are already underway.
Charpentier said at a news conference on Wednesday that she hoped their win would send a “positive message to young girls who would like to follow the path of science, and to show them that women in science can have an impact through the research that they are performing”.