What is CRISPR?

CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a genome editing tool.

So what’s the big deal?

It is cheaper, faster and more convenient than conventional methods. Because of this, there are far fewer limits on the potential and power of genetic research. Secondly, with the apparent progress and small successes of previous experiments, a fervor for CRISPR has exploded in both the scientific world and the pharmaceutical.

It is anticipated that CRISPR will do for genetics what for did for car, or what Darwin did for evolution. But to others this tool is more in line with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, or perhaps the discovery of fire. Either magnitude that plays out, this is the beginning of a new trajectory for mankind.

What does that mean?

CRISPR has both the potential to be a mechanism[tyu of genetic editing for both medical purposes and for cosmetic purposes. Imagine a world, perhaps in the not too distant future, where most cancer, ailments, and heritable disorders are remedied with genetic therapy. Better yet, imagine a world where you can choose for your child, before they are even conceived, not to have cancer or dementia or even acne. Now imagine still, that with that child you could choose their eye color, their temperament, their future. Would you do it? More so, should you if you could?

Now the truth is that we are just at the inception of CRIPSR’s potential and these beautiful dreams or perhaps nightmares, are merely that–fiction. CRISPR has subsisted in living organisms for millennia, but we only identified it in the 90’s. Since then, unraveling the mystery of how it works has taken time; twenty years later in 2013 it was adapted into eukaryotic cells.

What’s going on in China with CRISPR?

Just last month the first human trials with CRISPR edited cells will be tested on patients with lung cancer. Instead of using drugs to work alongside our immune system we are effectively hacking the immune system in the hopes of enhancing its power. By using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique they will maneuver a sort of immunotherapy to block a specific receptor on T-Cells (a type of white blood cell that identifies pathogens within other cells in your body). By blocking this receptor it will allow the T-Cells to better identify the cancerous cells. (For a great explanation of this scroll down to the fourth video to learn how this specifically works).

Learn More About Gene editing:

Beautiful Animated explanation of Gene Editing by Kurzgesaht:

Slightly more detailed CRISPR explanation by Bozeman Science:

Great 3D illustration of the CRISPR Process by MIT:

The method behind gene therapy:

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