Biological breakthrough – fascinating article: here’s a snippet:
[I] n 2012 [Jennifer] Doudna, Charpentier and their colleagues offered the first demonstration of CRISPR’s potential.
They crafted molecules that could enter a microbe and precisely snip its DNA at a location of the researchers’ choosing.
In January 2013, the scientists went one step further: They cut out a particular piece of DNA in human cells and replaced it with another one.
In the same month, separate teams of scientists at Harvard University and the Broad Institute reported similar success with the gene-editing tool.
A scientific stampede commenced, and in just the past two years, researchers have performed hundreds of experiments on CRISPR. Their results hint that the technique may fundamentally change both medicine and agriculture.
Some scientists have repaired defective DNA in mice, for example, curing them of genetic disorders. Plant scientists have used CRISPR to edit genes in crops, raising hopes that they can engineer a better food supply.
Some researchers are trying to rewrite the genomes of elephants, with the ultimate goal of re-creating a woolly mammoth.
Writing last year in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, Motoko Araki and Tetsuya Ishii of Hokkaido University in Japan predicted that doctors will be able to use CRISPR to alter the genes of human embryos “in the immediate future.”
Thanks to the speed of CRISPR research, the accolades have come quickly. Last year MIT Technology Review called CRISPR “the biggest biotech discovery of the century.”