The CRISPR Craze

Liz is a staff writer for Science.

Bacteria have a kind of adaptive immune system, which enables them to fight off repeated attacks by specific viruses, that works through precise targeting of DNA. In January, four research teams reported harnessing the system, called CRISPR to target the destruction of specific genes in human cells. And in the following 8 months, various groups have used it to delete, add, activate or suppress targeted genes in human cells, mice, rats, zebrafish, bacteria, fruit flies, yeast, nematodes and crops, demonstrating broad utility for the technique. With CRISPR, scientists can create mouse models of human diseases much more quickly than before, study individual genes much faster, and easily change multiple genes in cells at once to study their interactions.

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