It came as no surprise: Less than ten years after the establishment of the revolutionary CRISPR/Cas gene editing tool, two of its key developers, Jennifer A. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, have been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna, 2020 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, Copyright: Nobel Media. Illustration: Niklas Elmehed

One way of measuring the impact of a technological or methodological advance is to look at the before and the after. The polymerase chain reaction invented by Kary Mullis or cryo-electron microscopy, which was developed by Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson, are just two examples of Nobel Prize-winning inventions that revolutionised how scientists do science and have led to applications that were probably not even conceived of by their inventors. The CRISPR/Cas gene editing tool may be the most revolutionary of the lot: although it was discovered less than a decade ago it is probably no exaggeration to say that more or less every molecular biology lab around the world is now using it: a quick search of the popular pubmed database for scientific publications retrieves more than 20,000 publications.

Find out more about CRISPR and the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on our blog.

Other news