No, this is not an attempt to get people to register to vote. Although that is a responsibility which all adult citizens should fulfill. What I am referencing in the headline of this blog is the extraordinary achievement recognized this past Wednesday when two female scientists were awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry for their paradigm changing gene therapy technology known as CRISPR-Cas9.
Thanks to the work of Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna in 2012, medical researchers now have the ability of curing inherited diseases almost at their fingertips. Dr. Charpentier and Dr. Doudna are the sixth and seventh women in history to receive a Nobel prize in chemistry. Their discovery has completely changed the way scientists to their basic research in gene therapy.
CRISPR-Cas9 is also considered to be one of the most controversial developments in science because of its potential to alter human heredity. There has already been some reckless use of this technology by a Chinese scientist who has used the technology to edit the genes of human embryos. Although not the first technology developed which can alter DNA, CRISPER is far more precise and efficient than all other tools previously used.
In addition, the work of Dr. Charpentier and Dr. Doudna has spawned an entire new “industry” of scientific work to develop parallel approaches and multiple vector designs and delivery approaches. All of these efforts are working towards the same goal: gene therapy cures which will be affordable, safe, and which will improve the lives of millions and millions of people around the world.
Congratulations to Drs. Charpentier and Doudna.