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Two scientists have been awarded the 2020 Nobel prize in chemistry for developing the genetic scissors used in gene editing – the first time two women have shared the prize.

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A Doudna will share the 10m Swedish kronor (£870,000) prize announced on Wednesday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.

The researchers won the prize for “the development of a method for genome editing”, according to the formal citation from the Nobel committee.

Cheaper, faster and more accurate than other gene editing tools, the harnessing of the CRISPR-Cas9 system has revolutionised the field of genetic engineering, with its impact felt across biomedical research, clinical medicine, agriculture and wider society. However, it is the technology’s potential to treat or prevent human diseases that has generated the most excitement, as well as controversy over attempts to use it to create gene-edited babies.

Speaking at a press conference after the award was announced, Charpentier said she hoped their success would inspire young scientists, regardless of their gender, and demonstrate to female researchers that their research can make... see more