Human Genome

Science
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 awarded for the gene editing method CRISPR/Cas9
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 awarded for the gene editing method CRISPR/Cas9
Credit: NIH Image Gallery from Bethesda, Maryland, USA / Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to the Frenchwoman Emanuelle Charpentier and the US-American Jennifer Doudna for the development of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene scissors. This was announced by the Nobel Committee of the Royal Swedish Academy on Wednesday afternoon in Stockholm.

The two scientists developed the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors that enable the quick and precise editing of genes.

Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, has stated that "there is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all. It has not only revolutionised basic science, but also resulted in innovative crops and will lead to ground-breaking new medical treatments,".

Science • Humans
Scientists rename human genes to avoid Microsoft Excel misreading them as dates
Scientists rename human genes to avoid Microsoft Excel misreading them as dates

Scientists have renamed some 27 human genes over the past year to avoid Microsoft Excel misinterpreting their alphanumeric codes as dates.

These codes are used as a shorthand method for researchers to identify the genes in the human genome. Sometimes, though, they end up reading as something else. For instance, the gene symbol for Septin 2, SEPT2, defaults to the date '2-Sep' when typed into Excel, while Membrane-Associated Ring Finger, aka MARCH1, becomes '1-Mar'.

The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) defined guidelines for naming protein-coding genes, RNA genes, and pseudogenes to avoid such mishaps. The instructions further say gene symbols should only contain Latin letters and Arabic numerals; should not contain common abbreviations; should not refer to any particular species; should not be offensive, and should be unique.