Unless you are a bio-geek, you probably haven’t heard of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats (say that 5 times faster) or CRISPR, It’s the biggest and most important scientific gene editing technique in decades. A few years ago, scientists discovered a protein CAS 9 which had figured a way out to ‘cut’ parts of DNA in a bacteria that were damaging to the bacteria. Then in 2011, a team of scientists led by Jennifer Doudna of UC, Berkeley started thinking about how this protein works and, crucially, how it can be adapted and replicated to work in plants, animals and yes, humans. Or to put it differently, how can this protein work such that it can identify harmful viruses and ‘cut’ them out of the DNA. Powerful, yes?
And no, this is not a development that is in realm of fantasyland. It’s real and it’s here now. Everything from curing a bunch of diseases to famine resistant plants to designer pets is poised to happen. And like I said, we are not talking decades or generations before this becomes a reality – we are mere years away!