Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna have won this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work developing the CRISPR gene editing tool, Reuters reports.
"This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies, and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true," the Nobel committee says in a press release.
As BBC News reports, Charpentier, who now is the director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, was studying Streptococcus pyogenes when she uncovered a new molecule dubbed tracrRNA that was part of the bacteria's CRISPR-Cas9 defense mechanism, which typically chops up the DNA of invading viruses. It adds that Charpentier then began a collaboration with Doudna, who is at the University of California, Berkeley, and the pair developed the bacteria system for wider use as a scientific tool.
"Strangely enough I was told a number of times [that I'd win], but when it happens you're very surprised and you feel that it's not real," Charpentier said during a press briefing, according to the Associated Press. "But obviously it's real, so I have to get used to it now."
As NPR notes, there has been an ongoing patent fight regarding CRISPR gene-editing approach. The University of California and the Broad Institute have been battling it out in court.
"It's a big field and there's a lot of good science being done in this field. But we have decided this year to award the prize to Charpentier and Doudna, and I can only say that," Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry says, according to NPR.