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  • Vijay Chandru

The Plenary by Nobel Laureate Dr Emmanuelle Charpentier @ Bengaluru Tech Summit 2022

Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2020 for her path breaking research on the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas genome engineering technology. The plenary by Dr Charpentier was a perfect start to the Tech4NextGen. As a young woman scientist who has done exceptional research in France, USA and Germany, she has also translated the work at the bench to valuable intellectual property and grand commercial success with spinoff companies like ERS Genomics and CRISPR Therapeutics. Her talk on the research journey towards CRISPR-Cas genome engineering technology will surely have inspired the young scientists and bioengineers attending the conference.

Dr Charpentier took us through the discoveries in microbiology of the palindromic patterns of CRISPR in nucleic material that gave bacteria the protection from virus attacks and how these patterns have also left their imprints in other organisms [1]. These observations along with the cleavage efficiencies of enzymes like Cas9, 12 and 13 led to the discoveries that gene editing (cut and paste) as well as detection of nucleic patterns in cells could be engineered. Because it works in microbes, crop plants, livestock and humans, the ramifications go beyond medicine into food systems and planet care – a one health solution. This has been heralded as one of the greatest discoveries since Darwin [2].

Our former PM, Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji, had lyrically stated in 2001 that “If IT describes India of Today, then BT would be the Bharat of Tomorrow.” If Bharat needs to build its Bioeconomy from its 100B base today to a 500B target as set by our biotechnology industry leadership, then the coming together of Synthetic Biology, Genome Engineering and Artificial Intelligence has to play a significant role. This plenary lecture by nobel laureate Dr Emmanuelle Charpentier has set the pace.

  1. Loureiro A, da Silva GJ. CRISPR-Cas: Converting A Bacterial Defence Mechanism into A State-of-the-Art Genetic Manipulation Tool. Antibiotics (Basel). 2019 Feb 28;8(1):18. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics8010018. PMID: 30823430; PMCID: PMC6466564.

  2. 50 ideas to change the world FT (issue March 29th 2018)

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