The WIRED Guide to Crispr

Excerpt. Read the full article on WIRED.

Everything you need to know about how scientists can repurpose a bacterial immune system to alter DNA, making everything from cheap insulin to extra starchy corn.

AUTHOR: MEGAN MOLTENIBY MEGAN MOLTENI

IN THE EARLY days of gene editing, biologists had a molecular tool kit that was somewhat akin to a printing press. Which is to say, altering DNA was a messy, labor-intensive process of loading genes onto viruses bound for target cells. It involved more than a fair amount of finger-crossing. Today, scientists have the genetic equivalent of Microsoft Word, and they are beginning to edit DNA almost as easily as software engineers modify code. The precipitating event? Call it the Great Crispr Quake of 2012.

If you’re asking, “what’s Crispr?” the short answer is that it’s a revolutionary new class of molecular tools that scientists can use to precisely target and cut any kind of genetic material. Crispr systems are the fastest, easiest, and cheapest methods scientists have ever had to manipulate the code of life in any organism on Earth, humans included.

The long answer is…

Read the full article on WIRED.

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